Looking at Looking

After talking about what’s behind the creation of work and understanding where it fits into the universe of other creative works I started to think about how I look at images. It’s one thing to be told the secret and another to be able to unlock the secret yourself.

I’m sure that there are ways to look at images in a meaningful systematic way, I find that I’m systematic, I do the same things over and over again, but perhaps not meaningful. In essence I’m running through a mental check list, a process that happens quickly:

  • What’s this a photograph of? What is the photograph about?
  • Have a seen something similar before? Where? By Whom?
  • How was this created? What was the pov? What lens was used?
  • Any other creative effect? Filters? Shutter speed? Depth of field? Focus?
  • How has space been used in this image? Foreground, middle and distance?
  • What about balance? Where is the visual mass, how does this draw the eye?
  • What about light? How does it contribute to the information in, or impact of, the image?

When I’ve eventually exhausted the initial run through I then turn to what has been churning away in the background:

  • What does this make me feel? What are my thoughts? What associations does this image bring to mind.

How about you?  Do you have a way that you look at images?  What works for you?  I’d love to hear about it.


6 Replies to “Looking at Looking”

  1. I usually start with feelings and then go technical. I always pay attention at the composition, the color mass, the sharpness (the lines)…but mainly let the photo speak 🙂

  2. That’s a good question, although I think it depends. For my blog friends who are not into photography, I’m looking for them to share their lives even if the pictures are imperfect. For my photographer friends, I think aesthetics is the first thing. Is it pleasing to me, did I like it (or envy it), did it make me smile or have other emotion. The technical is good also, but anyone can be excellent technically. It’s whether I see their passion that appeals to me.


  3. This is a good question.
    I never really thought about it till now.
    When I take pictures I look for the light and atmosphere, shapes and composition.

    1. That’s a great list of things to pay attention to. I’m better at looking at photos after the fact. In the moment if I’m able to pay attention to one thing I’m doing well.

  4. I’m afraid that I start with ‘Do I Like It?’, but with composition very much in mind at that stage. After that I may analyse all the aspects of the image that you describe, do fully understand my first thoughts.

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