What exactly is the photo trying to convey?

Photography is a form of visual communication. Nothing is more important than your photo conveying what you actually intend it to. All decisions you make in creating it should support that. If we look at a photo and don't know what to make of it, then it lacks clarity. If a photo is confusing it lacks clarity. If you have to defend why you took a photo or explain what it means, it lacks clarity. A photo should successfully convey whatever you are trying to express. 


Both of these photos include a similarly posed heron but the photographer's
intent is very different. The first photo is from The Natural Beauty of Alabama
and the second is by Erwitt Elliot. Both photos have clarity. The viewer gets it.

The 5C Photography Course focuses on nature photography and assumes that
beauty is part of what you want to communicate in your photos. The photo by
Erwitt Elliot is a different kind of photography and aesthetics are less important. Each photo achieves clarity because viewers understand them.

I took this photo of Noccalula Falls before I had any concept of clarity. I found the weathered tree interesting but needed the white behind it to make it show up. I knew it didn't work but I wasn't sure why. What is the photo about - the tree or the waterfall? If an image contains two strong subjects you should choose one of them for the primary interest and emphasize it. Otherwise they compete for attention and result in confusion.


The second photo is also of Noccalula Falls with a tree but clarity is not a problem. The waterfall is the primary interest and the tree and other components support it. Viewers understand the photo.


When I first saw the next photo I was struck by the beautiful color of the setting sun. Then I was drawn to the boat. As my eyes went back and forth between the two I was asking myself what the photo was meant to convey. I think it is about people enjoying themselves on the water during the last beautiful moments of the day. The trouble is, the sun is more interesting than they are. There is a competition between the sun and the boaters for primary interest.

Some viewers might want to look at the beautiful sun and ignore the boat. In order to convey what the photographer intended, the sun and boat need to be separated and the boaters enlarged to emphasize their experience.

Another possibility is to make the boaters less important with the sun as primary interest. It could be more about nature and less about people. Either way would communicate a message without confusion.

In this photo the sun is a strong subject but the boaters are clearly the primary interest. There is clarity.



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