Monopolistic View of Beauty

Monopolistic view of beauty



1 – Starting point

I always had difficulty understanding the word beauty; the more I read about this word the less it seamed to make any sense. I had the great difficulty in the area of reconciling beauty, according to what I red and, beauty according to what I experienced by looking at objects. It appears that the term beauty was clear to each single individual who defined it from Plato to Shakespeare and to the thinkers of our time, but when taken to gather they each seam to be talking about a different thing.

It is not that visual stimuli do not affect me; the rite of spring in Uffizi gallery in Florence Italy by Botticelli had such effect on me and evoked such thoughts that brought tears to my eye. That was 40 years ago when I was 25 years old. The tears of course were not only  result of the visual effect of the painting, it was the combined result of the magic of Florence, Uffizi museum, my age and also subsequent chain of thought on various aspects of humanity such as greed, wars, peace, affection, cruelty, etc summoned by the visual trigger, the painting.

I also enjoy Picasso’s work but many a time looking at his work I feel as if something is missing. The way colores balance in his paintings is most pleasing to me but the combined effect is as if something is missing in spite of all I read about this artist. The list of painters whose work I enjoy is long from Giotto to Salvador Dali.

But when I come to Mona Lisa, I am sorry to say that I am absolutely lost. In me it generates absolutely no feeling what so ever in spite of all that has been said about this painting by many learned man of today and the past. To me this painting is like Einstein’s equation    E = MC2. I know this equation is perhaps one of the greatest discoveries of mankind. I also know that many physicists would even use the term beautiful to describe it, but to me it is only an impotent discovery in physics. In me it leads to no feeling, no train of thought, I am sorry to say that it is very much like Mona Lisa, even to appreciate E=MC2 you must study physic’s let alone to call it beautiful

But not to worry, almost like most other humans, I go on living comfortably with hundred of similar words like justice, freedom, democracy etc whose meaning eludes me when I think about them seriously, but have no trouble  using them in everyday conversation. Perhaps this uncertainty is in the nature of our communication system – language – After all language is a very old discovery (and perhaps partly hard wired in in our brains) by primitive man that was very useful to survival of our hunter gatherer fathers.  Perhaps in many hundreds of years, if man kind survives, may be a new way of transferring information between humans will replace language, a system more appropriate to mans ever expanding needs.








2 – Agent of change – The class

But what really got me thinking about beauty was enrollment in a photography class in 2008. Our instructor had studied photography in united state, he also had an open mind, and perhaps he was one of the best qualified people in the country to talk on the subject of photographs.

In the class pictures were routinely classified as good, medium or bad by our instructor. Of course we wee allowed to voice our views regarding his selection and register our disagreement with his classification which for me was quite often. But usually I was at a loss to understand the basis by which the pictures were classified into good and bad:

Were we classifying the pictures on the bases of our personal feeling?

Or were we consciously or unconsciously using a standard to classify the pictures

Into to good and bad – I can not think of good and bad without a predetermined

Standard or frame of reference

Were we classifying the pictures according to the beliefs of a school of

photography or ideology

Obviously no satisfactory answer was forth coming, perhaps due to limited scope of the class, perhaps there was no answerer.

2 – In pursuit of an answer

Even if I tried to pursue one of above lines of taught regarding classification of photographs I would be at loss as to how to find such a standard and what procedure to follow in using the standard.

Even if I tried to classify the photographs according to my feeling I would not be sure as to what I mean by feeling:

Pure visual feeling (how do you keep it pure)

Strangeness of visual

New visual effect

Association with the past

Association with current mood

Ability to trigger string of thoughts


In pursuit of an answer I decided to only concern myself with things that are natural to me, things that I can understand and feel. I decided to leave out all such things like technical aspects of photograph, the history of photography or photographer, environment or the culture that the photograph belonged to and decided not to consciously use any ideology as far as possible (apart from unfortunately what is already part of me).

It is not that I don’t value technique or history of a photograph. Technique allows the photographer to get near to his feeling when creating a photo and history provides one with an understanding of the environment in which the artist worked in and perhaps it can provide some clues to the associations and feelings in the mind of the creator that lead to creation of a photograph.

I also decided that irrespective of the procedure I chose to define a good photograph, a good photograph must also reflect the feelings generated within me. To me a photograph can not be beautiful if it only satisfies an arbitrary criteria (then it becomes good) set by me, or some learned person, while giving rise to no feeling within me.

This leads one to think that perhaps there is a change on the horizon in the way by which pictures are called beautiful. With evolution and expansion of communication facilities (to great extent internet) and democracy (if it ever really take root in our word) perhaps gradually grater weight will be given to the opinion of the common people (the owners of the thing we call beauty) towards  work of art over that of the experts. the expert will still be king when history of photograph is to be discussed, when, durability of colores are evaluated but not when pleasantness of colore  mix of a painting is to be discussed or when the overall appeal of the visual (beauty) is to be judged. Of course it will still fall on the expert to explain why people feel the way they do.

The change is perhaps very similar to what happened in the field of interpretation of dreams. In the old schools of dream interpretation, each figure in a dream had a predetermined meaning, defined by some learned man, according to which the dream was interpreted – My mother believed that if you saw a fish and a bird in your dream you would become a king. She was absolutely right, I never had such dream and I never became a king – But in the modern hypothesis put forward for interpretation of dreams there are very few such symbols and the key to interpretation of a dream lies within the individual dreamer and the role of the expert in this field is to find the key to a dream from the dreamer.

With Freud thing were simple, each dream was manifestation of a desire or a wish. But with introduction of other factors such as collective unconscious, archetypes etc by young things got more complex but still the key to understanding of a dream lied inside the individual.

Maybe such revolution is in the wind for the field of arts through which the authority to declare an art object beautiful will move from a learned man to what is belittleingly called the common man, after all the common man is the sole owner of feelings generated by a visual effect that we call beauty. The specialists will perhaps be forced to take the back seat as an adviser to the common man or perhaps vanish all together and be given the job of updating information on the net.

So in my novice mind the only path open to me is to find some obvious and simple observable phenomenon reflecting people’s feeling when looking at photographs. Such phenomena should represent the sum total of feeling generated within an individual, irrespective of the factors behind the feeling. I will also leave aside all philosophical concepts such as beauty.








3 – Ranking photographs

I think the simplest observable phenomenon resulting from people looking at series of photographs is perhaps ranking of the photographs by the observer. It is simple and uncomplicated and one can guess (I hope) a lot about what happens in ranking under various situations without complicated experimental procedures.

3 – 1 ranking by common man

A common man if asked will rank a series of photographs from best liked to least liked at any given time.

Another common man of same background and from the same area will most probably generate a different ranking set, perhaps with some common selections.

3 – 2 Ranking and time


Time has a peculiar effect on ranking of the common man. Subsequent attempts at ranking, say in an hour, day, month, year with same set of pictures will mostly generate different ranking sets especially if thee are more than dozen photographs. Perhaps some photographs will hold their ranking position but change in order of ranking will be mostly unavoidable.

3 – 3 Ranking and geography

Common man from different environments, mountain, desert, seaside, big towns, and villages will perhaps show marked preferences in assigning specific photographs to higher or lower ranking order.

3 – 4 Ranking and age

Common man from different age groups will also show special preferences in assigning photo set to higher and lower parts of the ranking set. Some years a go I asked an old man to imagine a beautiful forest and then I asked him what color the forest was. The answer was black.





3 – 5 Ranking and social background

People chosen from different social backgrounds will show also special preferences in ranking photographs.

If one assumes that ranking is the result of some property inherent in the photograph according to strength of which the photos are ranked Then one may ask , why is it that from a fixed set of photos we obtain such diversity of ranking results, with the same person as well as with different persons.


3 – 6 – Ranking and training

What if an individual is given specific training in filed of photography. For sure training will affect his ranking, as opposed to his ranking before receiving training.

With training, perhaps, one will see more consistency in the ranking of a trained individual, with respect to time or to some extent with that of similar individuals trained in the same school.

But what if his school of training is changed; say the student is sent to Italy, France, and Russia, china or South America to a different school of photography for training. One expects to see changes in the results of the ranking. Perhaps even a change of instructor may lead to change of ranking results.

But with training a new element is enhanced, thinking. Could it be that a trained photographer to some degree starts to use his analytical capabilities at expense of his feeling when evaluating photographs? In a way becoming more like a physicist talking about the beauty of E = MC2. Perhaps this is an unavoidable price to be paid for training.

As a photographer becomes more trained and moves up in the ranks of society then other factors come into play. The interests of special groups, the most common of them the art dealers – on hose strength perhaps the prosperity of the art world as we know it now depends.

The photographer will also be subjected to pear pressure to confirm. He must pay lip service to opinion leaders if he is to prosper and eventually become an opinion leader.

I would like to think that a feeling generated in an observer when looking at photograph is the result of all internal factors at work when viewing a photograph (perhaps reflecting the workings of the right half of the mind that is source of our dreams) while conscious thinking is an attempt at post explanation of the feelings that were generated by the right mind (perhaps by the left half of the mind in a dissected manner never encompassing the whole at the same time).Perhaps The more one thinks and explains the more one is distanced from feeling of beauty

4 – Beauty

So far I have tried to remain within the vicinity of ranking resulting from visual stimuli (a photograph). I think it is relatively simple for some learned individual in a society to give a definition of beauty and see it prosper through efforts of his followers rather than try to correlate this definition, as far as possible, with feelings generated within totality of man and answer endless questions as indicated bellow regarding hid definition:

Will a definition bring about some degree of conformity?

Will a definition make beauty measurable? Or consistent.

Will a definition agree with observable facts from ranking? Or other methods

Will a definition make beauty meaningful?


Most probably it will do no such thing but it will definitely be an instrument in hand off opinion leaders enforcing their vision of beauty and blocking new ideas.

4 – 1 emergence of beauty as a concept

People in a society, if they are to receive the rewards that an organized society has to offer are not generally free to behave or perhaps think in a way they think is right, they are mostly constrained within certain, ever changing boundaries.

If they are to receive rewards they have to be accepted as well as confirm to the power structure of the society in which they live such as rulers, opinion leaders, pears etc.

If an individual decides to go against the grain of society and its values then the shear cost of doing so, lack of resources, even bad will of power holders – who see such a person as threat to their interests – seldom allows a new competing views to find any circulation of consideration easily. Perhaps the struggle of the early impressionists in France is a good example with a happy ending.

In primitive societies one perhaps has only to deal with village chief or a small group of the ruling class. The views of the rulers become the standard in society that will eventually affect the views of the citizens on beauty even if they think inwardly different.

In more advanced societies perhaps shaping of a standard for beauty will be delegated to people with a knowledge of arts, the people who will decide these matters according to their world view among other considerations – like in the film Amadeus where the king says to Mozart ” my dear Mozart there are only so many notes that an ear can hear in course of a performance, just cut a few from your work and it will be perfect”.

Although in the more advanced and liberal societies the molding of beauty concept is controlled by decentralized guardians of beauty, such as universities, opinion leaders, art dealers and galleries  there is still a wide gap between millions of the common man who feel beauty and the guardians who pass judgment as to what is correct to be regarded as beautiful.

To my mind the term beauty, as used today, is an outward expression of liking as expressed by monopolist centers in a society that decide what is proper for an individual to feel and express.

Perhaps in the in the informatics society of feature – with advance communication technology and data collection process, that will revolutionize  everything – an apparatus for sensing the feeling of the thousands of nameless common man will revolutionize the traditional concept of  guardians of beauty, and beauty will com to have a meaning relative to groups of common man.

4 – 2 Merits of having guardians of beauty

I am going to use an analogy from sport to put through my thoughts on this matter. Physical exercise is carried out within a framework of arbitrary rules and regulations, such as football. Improvement in football, or in general sport, is the result of the performance being measured against the set arbitrary rules

Perhaps it is the same in photography or arts in general. Once a school of expression defines its boundary then this becomes a standard against which artist try to improve



5 – What is seeing?

Lots of ado about nothing. All of the previous discussion did not get me any concrete tools for consistent ranking photographs or understanding beauty. In course of above discussions although I only tended to disagree with lots of things but I came to the conclusion that;

Beauty, as defined and used currently, is only an outward manifestation of a monopoly – monopoly over the feelings and likings of the common man.

Beauty is not a property of an object; rather it is a property of the observer and has meaning only within the individual’s inner world.


As  my thoughts have led me to associate beauty with individuals privet world, Perhaps the next step in my trip will be to look at what it is that an individual calls seeing and to try to setup a model ( however crude) to understand what happens after seeing.

I am going to make two assumptions:

a) That the world is divided into two parts within us and outside us

b) The relation of our inner world to outer world is established by our scenes

and mechanisms setup by our DNA

Then within the above framework what do I understand from the term seeing?

For a description of the outer world I am going to believe physics. According to physics the outside world is filled with light (a form of energy) from different sources in physics you are told that light is of a wave nature (it can also behave like particles), to some extent like ripples on surface of water. Not all light waves are similar some are of longer frequency (lower energy) and some are of higher frequency (high energy).

According to physics light waves hit thing (which we call objects) in the outside world, some of the rays are absorbed by the object and the rest is reflected.

Of the exact nature of these objects in the outside world we know little. And what we know can be very complicated as in quantum mechanics where the objects are thought to be probability waves that only become objects when they are observed, and perhaps only in our mind? – We don’t have to follow this line of thought to its bitter confusing end we will just leave it in mid air like many other things.

Some of the light reflection from the objects along with light waves from other sources fall on a part of us called the eye.  The eye directs the  waves to its back where finite number of (order of ten thousand or so )  tiny sensing organs (rods) – divided to few groups each specialized in detection of a specific type of light wave (red, blue, yellow, black, white, etc) – detect specific aspect of the received light waves. So far we have seen nothing

All this information after some processing at the back of the eye is coded and sent to the brain which eventually produces a strange sensation that we call seeing of whose nature we know little? We are not even sure if what we see is similar to what others see.

Although there is no color in the out side world, we sense something that we call color and believe that it exist in the outside world. There is no beauty in the outside world but we think the outside world contains beauty. It is a marvels situation we assign most things that happen inside us to outside world.

we are like an airline control center, where the controllers constantly look at the radar screens and instead of planes they see funny lines and numbers. In spite of this, each colored blob on the screen has a definite meaning for the air controller, he talks to a small blip on the screen, and he calls it Boeing 707 with specific speed going in a definite direction and even talks to it and helps it avoid other aircraft in the air and land safely. Although different manufacturers use different symbols to reflect the same object but the interpretation of different controllers is always the same. They all call a Boeing 707, Boeing 707, what ever the shape of image on the screen and they always have nearly the same assessment of its speed, height and direction.

So we each carry a radar screen in our inner world, whose screen provides a good correlation to the outside world – a screen that provides us all with nearly the same interpretation of the outside world in spite of different symbolism of the screens – a facility that helps us to avoid danger and survive. The only difference here is that there is no controller. Here even the controller is part of the screen.

simple model of seeing

No: 1

So now when a baby is born it is faced with radar screen, as reflected by mechanisms setup by DNA. What is the infant to make of this data? Unlike the air controllers there is no instructor to teach him about the meaning of things he sees, unlike the air controllers who go through long training before sitting before the radar screen the infant is from the start put behind the screen and left to her or his resources to formulate an interpretation of the reflections on the screen.


What dose a baby initially make of the blobs on the radar screen, there are different schools of thought on this subject, but my guess is nothing. I am not even sure how much intelligence is there initially in the infant to try to figure out the bewildering puzzle on the screen. But for sure DNA has supplied the child with initial help centers that record, classify or perhaps provide criteria for differentiating.

But the radar screen is not the only thing that this lonely individual (child) has. There are streams of other inputs from his other senses. So any visual will be accompanied by host of other inputs from other senses.

But there must be selection criteria such as pain and pleasure. Perhaps what we call normal individual is preprogrammed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Mechanisms created by DNA will start collecting and storing patterns received from senses with resultant pain and pleasure in to memory. In time the correlations stored in memory become, automatic associations and Behavior patterns.

inner world view of seaing


It is with this complex structure that individuals gradually somehow acquire a sort of preference for their visuals. No doubt there are many more factors at work perhaps there are hosts of other filters, or criteria preprogrammed by DNA that effect structuring of our associations.

In general it is the preprogrammed Pain and pleasure principal along with other such DNA supplied criteria that during life experiences of an individual will help to shape the specific temperament and character of an individual that is going to rank a photograph?

So if this is the meaning of vision, what are we doing when we rank photographs? Perhaps we are saying that when I have this visual trigger, a set of associations , specific to me , are released from somewhere in my mind and while the stimuli lasts, and perhaps some time after it has gone, I sense a specific feeling in me whose strength I use to  rank a photograph. Chang any bit of my memory through new experience, mood, or training and I will get a different strength of feeling and hence different ranking of pictures.

So all that training can do is to condition a person to include a new set of associations in his memory, In time these new associations will effect his ranking results, and therefore the question of better or worse comes to men existence or lack of certain associations.

Basically when a person ranks photographs he is listening to an inner world in which set of associations are at work to set up a feeling(s), and I believe there is no set of feelings superior to other. So now perhaps I can see some light into the mechanism of picture ranking but what am I to say about beauty

Perhaps all I can say is again that:

There is no beauty in the outside world


Beauty is specific to each individual


Beauty is only a feeling experienced by an individual


Beauty only exists in the individual’s inner world


Beauty without feeling becomes good or bad


No beauty is superior to other beauty


If, and only if, two inner worlds have the same association, and processing mechanisms then according to Our Simplistic model they should generate similar Sets of ranking and  although they will not be able to communicate their feelings to one another from our simple model we perhaps can assume that they have the same feeling towards the picture or see the same beauty


6 -Improving model of feeling

My model of the interaction of the individual’s inner world with the outer world is very crude and simplified, but it serves to clarify the basis of my thoughts. With a more sophisticated model, as more parts are added, it becomes exceedingly more difficult to come to any conclusions.

Some models of personality use concepts like superego, ego, id and unconscious, there are facts about right half of the mind and the left half of mind, there are speculation resulting from brain magnetic resonance imaging experiments that imply that we do not retain an intact image in our mind but rather store the image attributes like color, lines, texture etc each in a different location in the brain and when required we pull these attributes together to recall an image.

With each refinement of the model one may find himself looking at new concept of beauty. Perhaps young’s archetypes hypothesis and collective unconscious could be a good starting point for a universal definition of beauty in specific areas?

With addition of each new concept to the model one is faced with many difficulties. Suppose we add unconscious to our model. Unconscious is assumed to govern 70% of our thought process of which we know nothing. Then according to this property of unconscious, even within ourselves, we will never know why we ranked the photographs the way we did. We are able to rank the photos but will not be able to figure out why; even tough we may Babel some explanations. We also know little about the links of unconscious to other items of the model such as memory.

For some the way out of this problem is to disregard unconscious all together, then what about the right mind that has  logic and language of it self, how dose this effect our ranking decisions. Not understanding the process governing these two additions to the model is one thing, but what if they affect our ranking in a manner that makes association’s irrelevant. Perhaps we will then have to throw our model out of the window altogether and resign to simpler and more workable monopolistic view of beauty?

more advanced model of seaing

No: 3

7 – What is a picture?


Now let’s look at what happens when a person composes a picture believing that he is imitating what he sees.

– The photographer faces a part of the outside world and sees something on his inner radar screen

– He takes a picture, picture is developed in some manner

– He may look at the result (picture) and try to compares it to what he initially saw on his inner radar screen (assuming that his memory has not changed with time)

– He may make changes to the picture to make it more in line with the image he had initially seen (on his inner radar screen).

– He may find that while the image generated by looking at the photograph is nearly the same as what he initially saw, for various reasons it dose not recall all of the associations that were called into play by the original image.

He may sacrifice some aspects of the picture to include more of the initial feelings,

– The process can be repeated until the photographer is satisfied with the final result; usually it is difficult even for the photographer to explain what he means by satisfied although he is satisfied





What happens when another person sees this photograph?

Is the picture a faithful transporters of what the creator saw on his inner radar screen.

Dose it contain any clues to the associations and hence the feeling that compelled the creator to take / make the picture.

What dose a picture really convey

Can a picture be regarded as a information transfer media

What happens when the creator of a picture and the second person have a dialog about the picture?

Is it possible for the creator of a picture and the observer to have a reasonable dialog?

Can dialog improve the quality of information transfer?

I will speculate on answers to above questions by using my imperfect model, at least this will give me an initial orientation.


Photograph copying the outside world

a photographer looks at the outside world, then if what he sees (on his inner radar screen) summons sufficient associations to raise the sum of his inner feeling to a certain level, perhaps then he will try to take a picture of the outside world (an approximate copy of frequencies stimulating the rods at the back of his eye) on a photograph

Here the photographer’s skill comes into play; he will try to replace the original trigger (frequencies hitting the back of the eye) by frequencies generated from a photograph (which at best is only an incomplete record of frequencies hitting the eye).

The photo doses not record any of the associations accompanying the initial view (image on the radar screen in our head). The photograph is only a trigger that tries to recreate the frequencies falling on the eye. What part of frequencies the photo graph captures and how well it records the frequencies falling on the eye depends a lot on photographer’s skills? And state of technology. One must also remember that the original seen was viewed in a certain setting that gave rise to numerous inputs from other senses that do not register on the photograph.

Also each internal view (what we see of the outer world on the internal radar screen) brings about a whole host of associations specific to individual photographer none which are recorded on the photograph. The photograph is only a means for replacing a collection of one time natural frequencies falling on the eue with an approximate but durable record of such frequencies.

On subsequent reviewing of the photograph the photographer has to make trade offs; he has to decide on aspect of the total feeling within him that he hopes to see in his photograph. Also one must remember that time has elapsed between time of taking the original photograph and the moment of its review and as a result most probably the photographer’s psychological setup has changed resulting in a change in collection of his internal feelings. He looks at the photograph, he has a feeling – perhaps lot of the original feelings will be there if time laps between taking the photograph and reviewing it is short. Now the photographer may experiment with the results, with the hope of regenerating his ever changing memory of the initial feeling. Generally he will only achieve an approximation – Or I would like to be bold enough to think that a picture is basically a reality on its own right and not a copy of reality.

Once a photograph has been taken the photographer is at liberty to cut the link between the original view (the outside world) and the trigger (the frequencies hitting the eye). He may consciously or unconsciously proceed to create a world that has no outside world equivalent other than the photograph. He may proceed by manipulating the photograph to create a set of associations and feelings that emerge only as result of looking at the photograph. These associations and resultant feelings will be his guide in this journey of creating a photograph (virtual world).

What can a photographer say about such a photo? Well it all depends on the model chosen to explain internal workings of the photographers mind and there is no shortage of such models. If my simple model is chosen Perhaps the creator of the photograph will be able to say a few words about the internal associations that lead him to select the photograph and the reasons for subsequent adjustments and perhaps a few words on what he felt as result of such association’s.

But what if we select a more complicated model to describe the workings of the inner world of photographer, say one that includes unconscious, which implies that our thought process are not totally transparent to us, specially if we assume that unconscious share of our thought processes, at least in creative functions, is more than 70%. then explanation given by the photographer loses most of its value. In this case all that a photographer can say is that he followed his feelings



Making photographs without a visual stimulus from outside world

This is an exercise by the creator of a photograph to create a picture of the view of his internal radar screen, like a picture of a dream vision; there is no outside stimulus, and the picture could (at the face of it) bare little correspondence to what exists in the outside world

The photographer may try to create a photograph that when he looks at release a certain set of associations within him, perhaps the ones that he has experienced. The visual could be made from blending one or many images – result of photographer’s life experience of viewing outside world on his internal screen. The images (objects, lines, colors…) can be carefully chosen, rather like ingredients of a dish, to produce specific associations within the photographer, and hence a specific feeling, rather like a flavor of a dish. How close the composer is able to get to his ideal. With the simple model, we only have his word for it. With the more advanced models and problems of unconscious meddling just forget it.




Picture as a medium of communication

It is one thing for the photographer to make a picture for himself, it is entirely different matter if the picture is to be used as a communication medium, trying to transmit something, say associations or the feeling of the creator to a second person.

How can this be done, the photograph is just a record of frequencies that produced the original view on the internal radar screen of the creator. The associations released by the internal mechanism of the creator are only specific to him and his life experiences and his DND setup processing mechanism. There will be very little trace of these on the photograph. Photographer may try to provide some clues to the associations, say by darkening the picture, including a picture of a grave to create a mood, symbols that he hopes will have common values in a given society and group of people. It is difficult to say how much this technique will help.

The observer will have his own world with different weight attached to each piece on his internal radar screen; the symbols will be deciphered according to totally different rules. This dose not mean that there will be no feeling generated as result of looking at the picture, perhaps some times even the feelings of the observer are stronger than that of the creator. The point is not the extent of the effect on the observer but the loss of the original message. Different set of associations are result of different life history and will lead to different feelings. Here we do not really have any basis for communication.

Basically you have a communication when the message is created and deciphered by the same code set by the crater and the receiver. When computers talk, the designers make sure that they will be using a similar code set when creating a message in sending computer and when deciphering the message in the receiving computer. But in photography the code used by the sender is never the same as that used by the receiver? And therefore we really have no basis for regarding a photograph as a communication medium

Then what is the observer of a photograph really observing. Granted that three may be similarities, such as common symbols used in society, but the differences will by fare outweigh the similarities and People even have different interpretations of common symbols. The observer will be seeing a different picture from that of the creator

As far as I am concerned to an observer a photograph is just another object in the outside world, with very little clues to the world of the creator.

Can a dialog between the photographer and the observer provide the observer with a better understanding of the creator’s message? Surely this appears to be a good solution in the simple module, but loses its meaning if we use a more complex model and believe in concepts like unconscious. With a more advanced models perhaps it will be even a near impossible task for a psychiatrist to get at the real massage behind the photograph.

Even talking to photographer and trying to get a list of his associations is an abstract exercise. Getting a list is surly not same as having the associations and resulting feeling setup in your own mind. My mother used to tell me that you will understand a father’s feelings when you have children of your own.

creater / observer model of communication in photography

No: 4

So with all this jargon this is how I take photographs:

I Look around

I concentrate on my Feeling, I don’t think

I see something that generates sufficient strength of feelings

Of course I can not avoid some thinking, looking out for a stray telephone line

I Take picture


I take a picture in less than one minute if possible

I Reduce attention to technicality as far as possible


After taking the picture look at the results

Listen to internal chatter going on in my mind

Feel the associations

Perhaps I adjust the picture if possible at the spot,

Perhaps I take another picture

If not possible, perhaps I adjust the picture later, by any available means

I am not afraid to experiment with the results, if it gives you better feelings

A new picture

I Use review any guidelines regarding good photographs

I am not afraid to disregard if I don’t like the results


I value praise by others

I listen to criticism and views expressed by others

But it dose not matter if they don’t like it


That is all there is to it

Perhaps I can summaries:

Term beauty is an interesting philosophical exercise


Individual’s internal feeling is the only thing that has a meaning with respect to beauty


Picture is not a medium of information transfer


A picture is just another object in the outside world devoid of any meaning like any other object


Feelings generated by a picture in an observer has nothing to do with those of the creator of picture


It is the observer that gives a meaning to a picture



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: