Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Photography is my serious hobby

It is Tuesday again and the #edublogsclub challenge prompt is out. This fourth prompt has a very special meaning for me, because photography is a very serious hobby for me. I spend many hours taking pictures, studying the work of great photographers and seeing tutorials in a number of recognized youtube channels. This is something I already integrated to my daily life that in fact I lately chose my smartphone based on the quality of its main camera, regardless of other features.

I started taking digital pictures many years ago with a 3 MP point-and-shoot camera, which I still use, mainly because I was curious about digital image production. Back in that time, DSLR cameras were way out of my league, I did not have any clue about shutter speed, f numbers or ISO values. Depth of field and Speedlight guide number were mysterious concepts to me. The point-and-shoot was in automatic mode, always. For the record, there is nothing wrong in using a camera, professional or hobbyist, in auto mode. Some recognized professional photographers use it, for instance to take a scratch picture of a scenery to be perfected latter. The deal is to progressively switch to semi-automatic modes and finally to full manual, there is a clear gain in control over picture quality and creativity possibilities.


Now, after this short intro to my post I’d like to come back to the topic of the prompt: including an image. For the remaining of this post, I’ll try to make a point how still images make a meaning.

As educators, we are supposed –among a thousand other things- to be professional communicators. At least to the extent of our subject’s field of knowledge. We spend a great deal of time developing printed/digital documents of various formats, even video and sound formats are expected. In my case, most of those documents include still images (photographs, clipart, diagrams, charts, etc.) I tend to use images for two reasons, one reason is “decorating” a rather boring document, the second one is presenting information otherwise difficult to express with text.

It is interesting to analyze the text to image ratio over a period of time, not so much surprisingly images have taken more space over time. In my opinion this is not always a disadvantage, as long as the imagery contributes to display concrete representations of the ideas being communicated. Text and images go together and the reader creates a compound understanding of the set. Readers do not rely only on the text they are reading, they capitalize on all the visuals, including the text that was treated as an image. Sometimes text and images are highly coupled, and it is impossible to take one away (text or image) without profoundly altering the original message.

Let me get back to one idea expressed above. Text can also be processed, in the sense of word processing, as a constitutive part of visual design. Consider for instance the following image.

Would you consider the content as text or image, or both? It is important to leave apart one technical aspect, the above is in fact an image (it was created and inserted as one image), that can be read as text. Do we understand sufficiently how text and images affect the process of delivering a certain message? I think the answer to this question is better provided by a semiologist.

PS: I regularly post my photographs in my Instagram account.


  1. I enjoyed your post and your visual and textual question using Tagxedo or Wordle spoke to me because I just posted "my" picture to my Instagram account @aliciaaabdul from a few years back. The intersection between the two is fascinating.

  2. Hi Anselmo

    I read your post earlier but have come back in response to the comment you left here - http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/nd151/2017/01/25/photos/ It really resonated with me when you said "Taking photographs is not about your gear, it is about your message, your art."

    I have friends like yourself that are passionate photographers and take the most amazing photos. I love taking photos when I'm out exploring; and I can feel a sense of my photos being less worthy because I don't have their same level of photography skills. Your comment reminded me that the most important aspect is to focus on your message. My message is I like recording my moments in time; I love looking back at my photos reflecting on a specific day or a year (or so ago).


    1. Skills can be developed !
      Go ahead, never stop shooting (photographs).

  3. I liked your comment about how images are starting to take up more space in everything we do. That text to image ratio? I've been concerned for a period of time about how we seem to be devolving back to a sort of hieroglyphs when we communicate. How odd that for centuries historians have thought that the transition from images to letters was an advancement. Now, we seem to be moving back to a fascination with images. I see the little emojis making their way into student writing these days. I feel like I need to have an emoji dictionary with me at all times in order to keep up. Is this an advancement or an atrophy of our communication skills. I sometimes wonder.

    1. I have a book suggestion for you: "homo videns" by Sartori. I loved the book. It is written in a way that makes it very clear.

  4. I liked your comment about how the text to image ratio has changed in our communication formats. I've been thinking about this change for some time and have been wondering if it's an advancement or a retreat into the ancient times of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Historians have thought the transition from pictures to words was an advancement. Now, we seem to be moving back to images instead of words. I'm thinking of emojis in text messaging and the like. Or Twitter and Facebook posts. What are your thoughts about this.