Genres in Photography

Quirky Photo of a Service Station_Beechworth_Victoria Canon 5D camera and Canon 24mm f1.4 L series Aspherical lens_Exposure Details: 1/500 second @ f8 ISO 100

How would you define a landscape or documentary photograph? And, in relation to that question, what’s appropriate subject matter? For some folks rules and regulations make sense. They provide a measure of certainty amidst an otherwise complicated series of options. For others art is a form of free, boundless expression. Definitions and rules probably seem like anathema and (maybe even) the work of conservative elements trying to hold back your progress.

Just between you and me, I really don’t care about such debates. In formal teaching roles I’ve often had to stick to a particular institution’s definitions only to bend in line with those of another later the same day. In fact sometimes the rules change from semester to semester within the same institution. But when we get down to it, and outside the need to produce a folio with (say) 6 natural landscapes, 6 urban landscapes, 6 people photos, etc. does it really matter. From my way of thinking a nude is just another type of landscape. You know, sand dunes and rainforests.

The above image depicts a service station in the tourist town of Beechworth in northeast Victoria. I was attracted to the scene by the red signage on the garage’s glass frontage. While displaying a snapshot quality the image is highly composed. Every pane of glass acts as a frame within the overall image frame. Each of the red letters is framed inside an individual pane, the bottom frames frame little scenes and moments occurring in the background, and the frames around the top panes further break up those on the inside of the veranda. The red color of the signage is repeated in the background signage and also in the streamers. This emphasizes the sense of 3-dimmensional space within the image. The fact that one of the letters is missing adds a sense of humour and communicates the notion of aging (history) within the image.

So what kind of photograph is it? A good one, I hope. OK, but to what genre does it belong?

While I was originally attracted to the color of the signage the image is largely composed around architectural elements. So, is it an urban landscape, an architectural or documentary image? Personally I’d call it a documentary photo. I like it and I hope you do as well. Ultimately, that’s what matters most.

Image Processing was conducted in Adobe Lightroom 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography
Glenn Guy