Photography and psychology, part two: how we view images

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Woman, umbrella and street scene 1 – think for a moment, how does it make you feel?

Today’s article is the conclusion of the previous article on photography, psychology and why it’s all a mind game; we’ll explore how our subconscious and conscious mind views images, and how the photographer can exploit that to gain control over the way an image is interpreted. Understanding how your audience views an image is critical to determining how that image should be optimally constructed to deliver the right message, and in a way that’s memorable and impactful.

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Photography and psychology, part one: it’s all a mind game

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This is one of my more successful recent images: on Flickr alone, 2,500+ views and 125 favourites: but why? After this pair of articles, I think all will be clear.

Today’s article is one I’ve wanted to write for a very, very long time. Such a long time, in fact, that it’s taken me several months to condense my thoughts into some semblance of order. I’m going to start with a question: how many times have you seen an image that provokes an unexpectedly strong emotional response in you – either good or bad – and you haven’t been able to figure out why? How many times have you looked at the work of a photographer and thought – not only is there something remarkably consistent about his or her style that makes the creator instantly identifiable, but also makes me as the viewer feel a certain way? Wonder no longer. As ever, these articles are written to first and foremost, make us think a bit more about why we shoot the way we do, and in doing so, hopefully become much better photographers. We all have the tendency to get caught up in the technical side, the equipment, and lose sight of the end objective: the images.

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