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  • Writer's pictureBen De Winter

How to capture the mind: Understanding the Psychology behind Powerful Photography - Introduction

Updated: Apr 4

During my career as a landscape photographer, I took part in various workshops and master classes, all with the aim to develop myself as a photographer. I have read several books teaching the craft of photography and took on-line courses from renowned and internationally published landscape photographers. Hundreds of blogs and articles about the subject passed my eyes. There isn’t a single tutorial on YouTube that I haven’t watched carefully.

 

All this research provided me with technical skills to become a better landscape photographer. Workshops, tutorials, and books all taught me ‘what’ to do to create photographs that would be loved by the public. However, nowhere was I given an explanation as to ‘why’. Why is it that the audience can greatly appreciate one photo of a landscape, while another photo of the same landscape is only considered mediocre?


The answer to the Why question can be found within psychological science. While photography and psychology may appear distinct at first glance, the interaction between these two disciplines is multifaceted, influencing both the creation and interpretation of images. That’s why understanding the principles of psychology can greatly elevate your proficiency and success as a photographer.

 

During the creative process, photographers make a number of decisions that influence the outcome of their work. Choices on subject and background, composition and framing, lighting, used equipment and camera settings, and the decisions on how to edit and post-process images all contribute to the final aesthetic and style of the photograph.

 

Photographers using knowledge of psychology enhance their ability to create impactful and meaningful images; images that effectively engage viewers. Understanding principles like gestalt psychology, color theory, and visual hierarchy allows photographers to create visually compelling and harmonious compositions.

 

Human psychology also plays a significant role in the way we perceive and interpret photographs (or art in general). The photographer’s audience is both wonderfully unique and wonderfully predictable.  They are emotional and irrational, make errors in judgment that are strikingly consistent, discard the better in favor of the familiar, and behave in many other ways that frustrate photographers immensely. As a photographer, understanding your audience is a crucial aspect of becoming a better photographer, as it allows you to create images that resonate with viewers. Here is where psychology provides insights into cognitive processes, emotional responses, and cultural influences and eye-movement patterns that collectively influence our engagement with artistic creations.

 

In the blog series ‘How to capture the mind’, several aspects of the dynamic relation between psychology and photography will be highlighted, both from the photographer’s side as from the audience’s perspective.

 

So, if you’re ready to take your photography to the next level, let’s dive in and learn more about the relationship between photography and psychology.


Best regards,

Ben.

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