The Two Fundamentals of Photography

What is it about?

How does it look?

I propose that all photographs fall into two overall groups that are defined by their answers to these two primary questions. They are either fundamentally about something, about their content. Or they are fundamentally an artwork that is meant to look interesting, an artwork intended to illicit fulfillment for the creator and the viewer firstly by their aesthetic - how they look.

In the case where how they look comes first, the content - what they are about - is the means to the aesthetic end. The photographs that have been created and recognized as “great”, all tend to incorporate a blend of these two fundamentals: being about something and aesthetically interesting. But I contend that the primary motive for each one, each photographer that created those photographs, sits on one side or the other.

©Tristan McLaren 2022
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