Sunday, May 28, 2023

Perception is The Key To Photography

By: Anik Dutta

‘The activity or job of taking photographs or filming’, this is the definition you get when you google “what is photography?” seems very simple, eh! Well, it isn’t. Photography isn’t just pointed your camera at some object and just press the shutter button, that is how anybody can take a picture, whereas a photographer sees a picture before it’s taken. The best photography equipment according to me is our eyes, as the line goes “the question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry Thoreau.

You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you’ve seen, the books you’ve read, the music you’ve heard, The people you have loved.    It all boils down to that simple word which everyone has heard of in their life, ‘perception’.  It is not what the object in front of the camera is that matters!   All that counts in for is how you interpret the ordinary object using your creativity and perception of life. That perception is what turns a photograph into a beautiful experience.

As they say “perception is reality” well, it is not true! As each and every individual has a unique perception of seeing things, the way we see the world doesn’t change the reality But, it surely changes the experience we get from that particular situation.


What one might see a decorating piece of element resting peacefully on a shelf,

A photographer is looking at a result of hours of hard work, dedication, commitment all molded by the creativity and imagination of the sculptor into a beautiful piece of art.  What was a useless ugly stone to the world, became an enigmatic sculpture from the perspective of the sculpture!

It is a macro shot taken in indoor (artificial) lighting conditions with a Zeiss lens on a Nokia 6.1 smartphone in semi-manual mode.

Before taking a photograph it was just another artifact, eating dust along with that vase in the background. But, now it is an experience to have. Now the world can feel more connected to the sculptor, people can also have a taste of that uniqueness now which the photographer had in his mind before looking at it through the camera lens.

All the details on which the sculptor had probably spend days can now be seen and cherished by the world, even when the sculpture and its maker is no more!

Good Photography is when people look at the pictures and feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice! A good photograph should give people experiences which they never would have experienced otherwise.

Humans can only perceive certain wavelengths of colors and light, ultraviolet rays still exist in the world… “just because we cannot perceive something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist” and it is the purpose of the photographer to present before people ‘beauties’ which they cannot perceive.


Here is another good example of ‘using a camera to capture and record a photograph’ while using imagination and perception to paint a picture using that photo.

A simple photograph of the sky, clouds, and some birds, when viewed as a picture, can literally take an instant out of time. And leave the viewer awestruck.

When you see this photograph, you see nothing more than those birds flying in the sky with some clouds scattered all across but, when you look at this enigmatic picture, you can see what it is like to ‘don’t follow the crowd and walk your own path!’

Well, let me explain how! At the top right corner, you can see two birds flying away from the flock, flying at their own will make their own path… flying towards the ray of light.

This picture tells another story to me, consider those two birds as two lovers who got tired of all the surroundings, who just wants to get out of there, enjoy their freedom and live a happy life away from the stereotypic society!

As they say, every picture says a thousand words, all it takes is a unique perception to understand those words.

Well, another thing about photography is anyone can just point and click a photo out of any given situation. However, a perspective photographer can make compelling pictures out of uninteresting moments. People forget the dates, years or even names but what they do not forget are the moments. Therefore, a photograph is the pause button of life. Every moment becomes special when it turns into a memory. And capturing the moments so that when we memorize those moments, we have something to look at and cherish is what photography is!


Here is a captured moment from a bike ride which I went on a few weeks ago. Just a random photograph turned into a nostalgic memory! The best thing about this picture is it will never change even when the people in it will, it’ll always be a return ticket to that moment otherwise gone and as they say, life is a collection of moments.

The subject in this picture is the rider, his helmet, and the pose.. ahh well, it’s not really a pose it just shows how much the rider is enjoying his ride! Little did he know that he was being captured in a moment which he’s going to remember every time he thinks of that ride.

What is just a photo of a helmet, bike and probably a rock symbol for most of the people, Can be a moment to hold on for the photographer.

If you’re a photographer you, you just see more stuff, and see more of the real world! A simple landscape for most of the people can be some experience to capture or what seems to be a lifeless object can tell a lot about its creator or an uninteresting moment can become so much more compelling from the perspective of a photographer.

A photographer sees what others only catch a glimpse of. And as the quote goes by-

“A great camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel”

-Peter Adams


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