The Making of a Powerful Picture

 
“It can renew faith or destroy it. It can defy convention and question the norm. It can awaken us...”

“It can renew faith or destroy it. It can defy convention and question the norm. It can awaken us…”

This article was originally published in February 2012.

If you think about it, the fact that a photograph can capture a sliver of time and a slice of space is astonishing on its own. Nonetheless, this definition may be simplifying the making of a picture to the bare physics of it. Photography certainly does not end there. An image has the power to do a lot more.

It can familiarise, educate and inform. It can spur curiosity, astound and surprise us or fill us with a sense of wonder. It can present, represent or document. It can describe, exemplify, detail, advocate and epitomise. It can revive, energise, stimulate, motivate and persuade. It can arouse, excite, seduce and evoke desire. It can placate, soothe, enchant, and instill a feeling of calm. It can make us retrospect and reflect, think or rethink.

It can challenge our notions of what is real or unreal. It can renew faith or destroy it. It can defy convention and question the norm. It can awaken us to seeing new possibilities and improbable truths. On the other hand, it also has the power to mislead, deceive and lie. It can influence, incite, inflame, instigate and provoke. It can discourage, confuse, frustrate and intimidate.

It is impossible for any single image to do all, or even a few of these at the same time. And yet, the photograph that can achieve any one of them, be the effect positive or negative, will be remembered… if not famously, then infamously. Every other picture will be forgotten soon enough.

The power behind an image comes from the photographer. The intelligent image maker will choose which power to infuse into the frame well before the shutter is released. So the question to ask yourself is… amongst all the various powers that you have, which is the one you wish to use for your next shot?

Tags: better photography, curiosity, editor@betterphotography.in, Editorial, enchant, image, K Madhavan Pillai, K Madhavan Pillai Editor, picture, power of image, retrospect, September 2011, what makes a powerful picture?