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TOPIC: Do you know the word "Pictorial"?

Do you know the word "Pictorial"? 23 Nov 2016 06:58 #3191

I recently attend a Photography Judge's workshop - the 3rd to date spread over time. Each time, something more is added to the discussion and often it has resulted from the fact that many of us don't have any formal 'art' or photography training and we haven't inherited standards from our predessors.

What this highlights is that the great majority of clubs and their members have no knowledge of the history of photography or the evolution of photography clubs as being the place were the art of photography was promoted. We have it in our constitution as does WAPF and many other clubs but we really don't understand why it is there.

The key word that was used the other week in regard to judging/critiquing images was the word "PICTORIAL".
e.g. Has the subject been treated pictorially?

I thought you might like to know what this means and why it is important to us when presenting our images at club or in a competition as it is supposed to be a primary goal in the development of photography through an association with a photography club. (at least that is what the purpose was historically, basically a goal of clubs).

A PICTORIAL photo is one that emphasises beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the documentation of reality.

I can hear some of you thinking that 'what about street photography' or what about 'journalistic type photography'. If you think about that, the statement runs true there as well. The art - the pictorialism of something like war photography, for example, is still in the composition. The photographer may not manipulate the image in post processing, but by things like the choice of lens, perspective and general composition of knowing what has been included in the frame, breaks the big scene down to exactly what that photographer wants us to see. If you were standing right beside the photographer you would see a much bigger and scene.

The word PICTORIAL will be used more often, so I thought I would share it now so you can start thinking about it when you are looking at your own photos.

I have been asked to judge for Albany this month and the statement 'treated pictorially' has been used in their definition so it prompted me to write this post.
Denise Aitken
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Do you know the word "Pictorial"? 27 Nov 2016 23:13 #3216

Thanks Denise,
That is an interesting little explanation of something that maybe we take for granted.
I personally feel that while good journalistic type photography might have a pictorial element, certainly the great and memorable ones do, they also can be justified for historical or educational merit, not just pictorial. There purpose is often different and sometimes the artistic is less important than the recording of the moment. Sometimes the rarity of an image due to risk or limited access can give it a wow factor independent of the pictorial nature of the image.
For us, as camera club photographers, we only rarely dabble with documentary style photography so I think looking for a 'pictorial' quality in our images is a great way of elevating an image from the old 'snapshot'.
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