Because it always is... A photograph is always about something... a thing or concept, fact or feeling, documenting or interpreting, concrete or abstract, consciously or subconsciously, in the author's eye or in the eye of the beholder. Whether you intend it or not, there is always a story behind a photograph. You do not have to spell it out, but the story is there. The story could be different for different people, but some story it is. Some photographs could speak volumes, some are more like a haiku, but they do speak. Some are speaking in heavy prose, some are like a music to our ears, but we do "hear" them, as much as we see them.
Dan, I think there's a shorter saying (that we all know) that validates what you just said: "A picture's worth a thousand words."
Every photo captures something that it would take a lot of words to 'try' to duplicate. Take Mike's photo above as an example. Suppose you tried to relay that same scene in words
, as an author. It would probably take several paragraphs, and more than a thousand words, to adequately describe the full setting, the lighting, the mood, etc. Yet with one photo the entire scene is captured.
Thus, as it relates to Michael's article question, "What's it all about?", this kind of question is why I like macro-photography so much. Macro-photography gives me the ability to take the tiny, common things that we walk passed every day and turn them into huge images that "tell a story" that a person seldom takes the time to notice. Sometimes it is simply an appreciation of form, or color, or both form and color. Sometimes it is the feeling of awe at how alien some of the smaller creatures of this world are, when blown-up, that we begin to imagine "what it would be like" to encounter such a creature the same size as you. Tiny things that we barely notice when walking by, when blown-up to life-size, give fleeting thoughts, impressions, and moments of reverence that would not not be possible to get without macro equipment.
So I too believe that every photograph has a reason why
it was taken. However, whether or not anyone else cares (or can share the same sentiment) is another matter. Perhaps the definition of a "successful" photograph would be one that accurately transfers the sentiment or impression that the photographer who took it felt. If a photo causes someone else
a moment of pause, then in
that moment of pause is where the transfer of feeling or sentiment is felt by the viewer, which originally was felt by the photographer and compelled him to take the photo to begin with. By contrast, the photo that is tossed over the shoulder, and effects no such moment of pause, fails to transfer the intended sentiment effectively, at least where that individual is concerned.
Thus it is all about communication. Writing itself is nothing but an attempt to transfer facts, sentiments, ideas, etc. It is, in short, a slow form of communication. Quite obviously, the same is true with our spoken words: they too are used to communicate but they too are slow when compared to other means of communication.
Well, if we default back to the saying, "A picture's worth a thousand words,"
and if we apply it to this discussion (and thus to our photography), this means that the pictures we take are merely an accelerated form
of communication. They are an attempt to say "a thousand words" with one click of the finger. And, just as there are people who can talk all day and yet really say nothing, so too are there people who can say a lot with but a few words.
I think this same fact obtains with photography, just on an accelerated level.