How-To See Photographically


A camera only records the graphic values of form, texture, color and light and nothing more.

This is the prime reason why we feel a bit disappointed at the way some photographs turn out. No motion, no life; only sharpness, unsharpness and record of colour. So, a photographer who does not want to be disappointed later makes a critical analysis of the scene beforehand and expects only that much.

The following factors will help at arriving at this sound judgement.


We often see things as we think they ought to be, not as they really are. For example, looking up at a building we still see its verticals as parallels, although according to the laws of perspective, they should appear to converge as they recede. The camera registers this convergence, which our eyes conveniently correct at the time of seeing. Our eyes should be trained to see consciously. All wide-angle distortions should be visualized and care taken to avoid them or minimize them.

Many a time a wrong impression is formed about the space. If there is no object in the foreground in a mountain scene, the subject may look small and disappointing. This happens if the photographer is unable to see space in photographic terms. A landscape without an indicator of scale often leads to this kind of a situation. If a human figure or a tree were included and placed far enough from the camera so that it appeared small, then the picture would show the scale property as also the enormity of the subject in the background.


Being part of the overall component of a photograph, a photographer must learn to see and appreciate how colors will record. Clashing colors should be avoided; effects of soft and saturated colors are more pleasing. All colors change in the color of existing light. A fair person appears dark if placed against a very bright background. Since the color of the light is always changing, what at one moment looked white may acquire blue, yellow or green overtones at another moment. Colors can be ‘unusual’ bur never ‘unnatural’. One should to be effective. If anything, the opposite is true. Soft, muted colors are rarely used and they thus automatically attract attention. Their subtleties can express feelings and moods which loud colors cannot. Instead of seeing the quantity of colors, one should see their quality.


A novice is concerned only with the quantity of light to see whether it is enough to take a picture and whether the exposure and aperture are suitable. A more experienced person searches for the quality of light. Is it diffused? Is it directional? Is it frontal, black, tinted? Are there more than one light source? One has to learn to see light photographically – how it will affect the picture. The quality of light influences the exposure of the film; the quality of the light influences a picture a picture’s mood.

Design or Composition

By carefully studying a picture, the point of central interest can be found out. If it is in the middle, the picture looks static while a point of interest which is off center looks more dynamic. A photograph should be analyzed in terms of shapes and masses. What is more dominating? And how are they affecting the overall beauty of the picture? Before taking a picture, one should decide if it is going to be oblong, square or perhaps, very narrow and wide. This may sound difficult in the earlier stages but becomes a matter of routine later on. A good idea is to analyze the work of famous photographers and their treatment of the subject matter.


Narendra Motwani

My name is Narendra Motwani. I am a professional Photographer. I am also a part-time freelance writer and I love to write on a variety of topics.

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