Just Some Grammar and No Words

 
“No two images are ever alike, regardless of how similar the behaviour and minds of the photographers.”—K Madhavan Pillai

“No two images are ever alike, regardless of how similar the behaviour and minds of the photographers.”—K Madhavan Pillai

This article was originally published in August 2014.

If you think about it, the complexity of any spoken or written language is astounding. First, you need to have a sound which is a symbol for something. Because there are so many strange and wonderful things in our world, there needs to be so many equally strange and wondrous sounds. Each sound needs another set of drawing symbols or characters which needs to be strung together to get the written word.

Now, if you wish to describe a scene with many things in it, you need to make many sounds in a certain functional order, or attach a large number of characters to each sound and bunches of these collections of characters in a specific order. This order is grammar. To make it just a bit more complicated, we add things like syntax and punctuation. Would it not be far more convenient to simply take a picture of the scene instead?

I may be simplifying the situation a bit. The written and spoken word is just as essential as photography, as a means of communication. But it escapes me why so many people think photography is complicated. It is an unspoken, unwritten, universal language that anyone in any part of the world can understand. The practice of it involves some understanding of the grammar of light. But the beauty of photography, especially when you compare it with other languages, is that there are guidelines to getting great shots, but no real rules. Of all the arts, including those that involve other languages, photography is the easiest to practice and master, because it is so enjoyable.

There is yet another interesting fact about photography. With over a century of shooting photographs and with the coming of digital photography and the internet, there may well be a billion photographs in all. The bit that amazes me is that no two images are ever alike, regardless of how similar the behaviour and minds of the photographers. Even two successive frames from the same camera will have slightly different results! At the very least, one will be a fraction of a second older than the other.

Tags: better photography, editor@betterphotog, grammar of photography, K Madhavan Pillai, May 2012, photography as a medium, The Editor