History of Photography


Photography is an art that involves a skilled communication through visual expression. Photographers use light to draw an image that can be used to represent an object, an atmosphere or any idea that touches human life in a given way. According to Clarke, photographic images convey a wide range of meanings that call for an extensive interpretation. The encoder of a photographic image must establish a series of relationships with the hidden meaning that a photographer seeks to communicate through his or her work of art. Photographers create their images in line with their points of view. They use specific skills to ensure that they effectively recreate a given scene with respect to a particular theme or to achieve some aesthetic value. As such, Clarke suggests that an effective interpretation of a photograph requires one to consider the work as an active play of a visual language. When constructing messages through photography, photographers consider various aspects. For example, the demographics of the intended audience with respect to age, gender and culture among other demographic variables come in handy. Photographers make informed choices about their shot composition. This involves a critical examination and decision on the specific elements to include in the mise-en-scene. Within the fame, there is always the main subject on which a photographer seeks to have his or her viewers’ eyes focused. The subject could be made to be the only object in the frame as is common with portraits or it could be in the company of other objects that give the richness of the environment as is the case with landscapes.

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Historically, painters used landscapes to fill in blank spaces that existed behind the subject. Several technological advancements have occurred with time to the point that almost everyone has an access to a camera in one way or another. Photography has gained fame with the advent of the digital technology. People can take as many photographs as they wish but use of their mobile phones. The choice of the type of image to capture still relies on the kind of message that one intends to communicate. The type of shot, the camera angle, and the type of camera lens among other skills in photography are also determined in the same way. It is crucial to note that photographers use the camera as a witness to events. They are the arbiters of the meanings that they communicate and they frame their images in a manner that suggests their specific points of interest. As such, it is clear that there is a close relationship between a photographer and the point when a given image was created.

The photograph that was taken by Andreas Gursky is an example of a high angle landscape photograph. The photograph is considered landscape owing to the fact that the photographer, in his construction of meaning, used a wide angle lens to enable viewers get an overview of the event that the photographer intended to document. By use of a wide angle, the photographer does not focus on a single subject within the frame. Instead, he gives a representation of a wide range of objects in his frame.

It is evident that the photographer did not intend to illuminate a single scene in this photograph. This explains his choice for a high camera angle that enabled him to capture more than what the viewer’s eye can see. By using this shot composition, the photographer portrays images of people in a busy environment. This means that there is a close relationship between the people and all objects around them with respect to the theme that determined the photographer’s shot composition. Landscape photographs are based on the understanding that there is beauty in everyday life and in every environment.

Andreas used a landscape photograph to enable his viewers to share the feelings that are associated with the event that he represents through the photograph. By using a wide angle lens, he manages to depict the emotional appeal that is associated with the ongoing event due to a clear representation of the movements that his subjects are involved in. There is a clear indication of trade as the subjects are shown to be involved in transactions and negotiations at every corner of the frame. This helps to communicate the main theme of the photograph. Without including a wide range of objects in the environment, it would be difficult for the theme of commerce to be interpreted by a viewer who was absent at the moment when the photograph was taken.

This landscape photograph also serves to communicate the nature of the event that is represented. It communicates the busy nature of business people and the business environment that is represented by a crowded frame. Within the frame of the photograph, there are several objects that include images of people and a variety of other objects that are associated with a business environment. This allows for ease of association in that the photographer makes it possible for viewers to link the objects and the event.

The interpretation of the photograph is also based on associations. This is often the case with any work of art as, besides the denotative meaning, there are other connotative meanings that are arrived at through associations. According to Clerke, the language of photography is special in such a way that every aspect that appears in the photographic space has some communicative value that is beyond its literal availability within the frame. Viewers use the punctum to deconstruct the terms of reference that photographers use so as to understand the photograph with respect to its cultural association. The understanding helps in interpreting the photograph by Andreas as viewers interpret it through association of the objects and a business environment.


Clerke states that photographs that are taken by major photographers often appear to have a particular style. He associates this to authors that have their specific styles of writing that their readers use to recognize them. Looking at the second photograph, a viewer is likely to see similar techniques as with the first one. In this photograph, as with the first one, Andreas shoots from the high angle to give a depiction of an aerial photograph. The use of the technique is intended at presenting a wider view of the location in which the picture is taken. To supplement the high angle, the photographer has used a wide angle lens that makes the photograph a landscape type of photograph. The technique helps the photographer to include as much objects as possible within the mise-en scene. The technique is used to show the environment with its richness. Images of humans in their religious artier are shown without a specific attention to a particular image. Color is used to give an indication of the depth of field. This enables the photographer to show the location in which the photograph was taken as it appears to have been in a confined building. Viewers can interpret the building to be a place of worship due to the subjects’ dress code.

This image appears to have much inclination to modernism than any other period in the photographic history. Modernism is the duration between the 19th and the 20th centuries. It is a duration that marked a shift from the previous trends and photographers worked hard to create a sense of realism. In photography, realism is achieved by taking a photograph in the natural environment reach with its ambiance. This means that all that appear in the frame are real objects that are free from manipulation by the photographer. Photographers use the camera pen to represent events in their actual environments as they include the objects in the environment within the frame to indicate the reach background. This photograph gives an indication of realism in that the background conforms to the dress code. Looking at the background, a viewer associates the nature of the building to a worship place that seems to agree with the subjects’ dress code. It is the need for realism that prompted the photographer to go for a landscape by use of a wide angle shot in order to present a wide view of the location.

The need to show the wider environment seems to have been the main determinant Andreas’ shot composition. While taking a photograph of merchandise, the photographer ensures that his frame is full of a variety of goods that are put on display. It could have been a picture that is meant to be used for advertising the business enterprise to prospective customers. The wide display comes out clearly due to the use of a wide angle lens that covers several objects within the rectangular frame.

The photograph clearly shows a wide section of the business enterprise including customers who could be on with their purchases, the products placed on display and different display sections of the enterprise. This leads to the understanding that this is a landscape shot. It gives room for viewers to see more than their eyes could see. It also allows viewers time to appreciate the beauty of the enterprise hence bringing out the aesthetic aspect of photography.


The last picture shows a portrait of business enterprise that could be understood to be a shopping mall. In this final photograph, Andreas shows much interest in the building rather than the surrounding. The building occupies the biggest portion of the frame as other objects like the trees that appear in the environment are given little space. Generally, the photograph must have been taken to communicate something specific about the building. However, there was a need to show some indication of reach vegetation around the building to make it have life. This called for the use of a wide angle lens so that some little aspects of the environment are brought into the scene. The building is the main theme in this photograph that makes the photographer tom focus on it more than any other object. While looking at the building, one can see some other objects that are made visible by use of transparent windows. A critical interpretation of this whole image can lead a viewer into concluding that the photographer wanted the products, in the building, to be more famous than any other object in the frame.


As observed with these photographs, one thing stands out clearly just as is suggested by Clerke. The viewers need to enter into a series of hidden relationships with the image that is captured by a photographer. Viewers should understand the image beyond what is physically seen but should bring in aspects like cultural considerations that a particular photographer made prior to his photographic work. A photograph will always represent the photographer’s point of view. This explains why photographers take many considerations in their shot composition so as to include specific objects within the frame. It also explains why photographers opt for specific types of shot like the wide angle shot, landscape and portrait among others.

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