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Popular photography classification


TPF Noob!
Jan 10, 2010
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Darwin Australia
Can others edit my Photos
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I have this problem each time I visit a forum such as this.
It relates to the way in which photography is currently classified.
The common terminology revolves around subject matter; landscape, portrait, street, sport, nature, and the technique used; macro, natural light, studio, etc.
My problem is that if I were to pick a group I'd be in a quandary as to which predominates, if that is the objective.
Example shown.
Most would, I assume, under the current system, call this a sea scape, a sub-set of landscapes I believe.
When taking the photo, the idea of recording a scape of any sort doesn't enter my head. What usually goes through my head, as with this shot, is the primary aspects of the interpretive aspects of what I perceive the photo to look like when finally hanging on the wall or displayed on a monitor.
I know the viewer might have a simpler approach and call it a seascape, and although it would be nice for them to make a deeper interpretation, it's not all that important for my determination which includes elements of interpretation such as description, explanation, aesthetic, interpretive and even ethics.
So where do I do from here? Do I conform or do I create my own classification system?
My problem is accentuated with a shot like this. For me it has intent, none of which fit with conventional classification. Partly aesthetic, partly descriptive, heavily interpretive.
The very nature of photography, because it doesn't have words to accompany it, allows the photographer to bury the words in imagery so that the viewer might find them.
I have heard from others that photography does not need words to succeed.
How silly that is.
What photographer has a blank mind when shooting? What viewer is thoughtless before even the most mundane imagery.
We look at a photo and we surely don't just think 'street' or 'portrait' and put the image in a box.
We allow the photograph to 'speak' to us, which really isn't the case. We 'speak' to the photograph. We tell ourselves, in the thoughts we create, what impact the image has on us.
The most valuable thing I have ever been told, back in the days when I was trying to figure this stuff out, was that the photograph is two things: it is what the photographer wants it to be, and it is what the viewer wants it to be and if we limit either by a simple and ineffective classification we are missing out on the incredible nuances of a photo.

Tom, I'm all for creating your own classifications and genres.
Why just the other day I took a shot of some young sheep. I call it a lambscape.
Took a shot of the squiggly bit in the dunny,... called that an 's'scape.
I'm heading out tomorrow to shoot some other common ungulates, got a goatscape in mind.
I'm sure if you put your mind to it you'll come up with some new terms. The scape scope is up for grabs.

Oh yeah, I just took a shot of the idiot box. It's a telescape
It's an image not a series of words. ;) I really don't understand this need to give everything an exact label, or convert it to words, in order for it to be classed as understood. This is a very 'western thing', that you must reduce an image to a category, give it a label. I ask; are you really understanding it as an image? Or are you confining it, restraining it, forcing it into a pigeon-hole so you can attach to it a definition? Isn't what you're doing failing to let the image speak for itself? It is after all only your attached definition that you understand and not the image. As you post indicates, you're having trouble relating your images to your definitions.

How do you classify this:
I've simply called it "Ice", or "Grass frozen in ice". What it's trying to show is how to use colour to define an image, not contrast through luminosity and black, how to separate colour from luminosity. But whether you understand that or not makes no difference to whether or not you find it pleasing. In fact I feel that telling somebody what the label is actually damps the imagination as they don't look at the image, only the title because your words, or title, is where your meaning is.

The same is true for music, in that it's a sound and not symbols on a page. You only understand it by listening, not looking. You feel emotion only from the sound and not the score. The score, no matter how complex, is only a guide and has never been able to convey the full meaning of the music, or even give exact instructions of what to play.

You must always give your listener music, not the score, just as you must learn to trust the viewer's eye and give them images to view and understand instead of definitions in words.
I think we classify things to have some level of organization. Using the forum, for example, unless complete key wording is maintained, it would be hard to find something that's in one list with thousands of entries. Most of our attentions spans are not that that long and there are a bunch of folks who (judging by other posts) don't have search skills, either.

As far as "ice", personally, I'd call it an abstract, but that's me.
Photography is PICTURES that cause words in your head.....not the other way around. Lose the pedantics, and use the shutter! ;)
Don't overthink this.
We just use it to break up the posts so that popular subjects/topics/themes don't result in a single gallery having such a fast inundation of posts would result in threads dropping off the front page before half a day was done*. So we have landscapes and macro and wildlife - and they are casual sections. Indeed if you read the descriptions wildlife also includes captive animals and black and white would include everything subject wise.

We have the general gallery too if you're not sure where to put a photo.

It's all there to just help break things up but also because people often like a certain type of thing; some like animals some people etc... so we have a general break up so allow people to focus on subject areas within photography that they enjoy.

Sure you can get REALLY complicated if you want, but honestly high complexity tends to only be required where you've got an absolutely massive influx of photos. At that point you're breaking things into even finer categories because you've now got 50 landscapes of which 25 are seascapes a day being posted so it stands to reason to further sub-divide.

Within your own archives you can use multiple key words through something like like Lightroom to organise your photos. You might well call it a landscape and a seascape if you do seascapes rarely; or you could just call it a seascape if you do them a lot. You could also call it category 54 if you want since its your own classification.

*we went through a period like that where everyone was posting gallery photos in the beginners section; it wasn't all that fun

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