The first and maybe the most important question when taking or watching photo is: What is this picture about? And it is not just the subject! There are three elements always present and must be considered.
Let me show you a bad example first. I took this picture in 2001 in Angkor, Cambodia. The subject are these beautiful overgrown temple ruins. But what is the story this picture tells? The story is: “look everyone and admire me, I have been in Angkor!”
Here is better picture from me taken in a night club. The subject is the DJ who was illuminated by a very powerful spotlight. I exposed for the background and the DJ is overexposed and appears rather like a ghost of light and energy. This picture is not so much about the subject, not so much about her. It is about me, it expresses the energy and exhilaration I felt that evening.
Now let’s return to the subject with another photo from the same DJ on the same evening agsinst exactly the same background.
Can you see the emotions on her face, the pride, the professionalism of a performing artist and the tension when she faces the crowd? This picture is really about her. But what about me the photographer in this picture? I am still very present, I took myself and the background actively out by exposing on her to direct you, the viewer towards her.
And this leads me to the third part of what a picture is about. Please look at this picture.
What is the subject actually? The pavement? The light ? The darkness? Or something happening in the dark parts or directly after? There is no clear answer to this, the answer is subjective and your choice. The picture gives you a lot of space to fill, it is largely about you, the viewer and your phantasies and choices. Please note that you could also just reject the picture and dislike and just not care about the subject. Even then it is your choice, the picture would be still about you, the viewer.
Even in the previous pictures the viewer is present and chooses. Please look again at the picture of the DJ facing the crowd. You might have noticed that the spotlight is not focused on her face but on the boobs and the face is a bit dark. This is certainly not by chance but the intention of the light technician of this show and I conserved this and exposed the face a touch dark. It is your decision whether the emotions in the face are the leading element for you or the boobs as directed by the light of this professionally scripted show.
None of the pictures in this article is for sale.