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Photography: the emotional impact beyond the visual one

Credit: Guido Fuà

A picture is worth more than a thousand words and this great value almost always has to do with emotional impact. Photography is in fact able to convey emotions, some immediate, others less explicit.

Looking at an image, however, is not the same thing as taking it. A photograph is the final product of a creative process that the photographer creates using the elements present in the scene, making a series of conscious choices that respond to a specific intent or vision. Observing and consequently analyzing a photograph is much easier than taking it.

Credit: Guido Fuà

Photographic impact: a matter of experience on multiple levels

A photograph has an emotional aspect and a purely technical aspect. In a shot, therefore, heart and head, emotions and technique coexist. When emotions are based on a clear and solid technical knowledge and on a precise use of it, they arrive directly to the eye of the observer, creating those shots that we remember in time.

A good photograph offers to the eye of the beholder always different levels of experience and emotions. In analyzing this series of levels we can make a list:

Visual impact

– Emotional impact

– Reactive impact

– Creative impact

Expressiveness and originality

Visual impact represents immediacy, the least reasoned and most spontaneous emotion. This is probably the least easy level of emotional experience to take into consideration before shooting, precisely because it is unquestionably linked to an instinctive reaction of the viewer. Something in the photograph we are looking at strikes us and we do not always actually explain what it is.

The second level is represented by the emotional impact. If the visual impact has the task of capturing our attention, the emotional impact determines how much what we are looking at is able to involve us. Obviously, there cannot be a shot that has an emotional impact without a visual impact; in fact, we cannot excite and involve people whose interest we have not captured.

The third level is the reactionary impact. Once a certain involvement has been aroused and a series of emotional reactions have been triggered, the viewer begins to deal with the experience on a more rational and intellectual level, trying to explain what the shot is meant to convey. The intellect flanks and supports what the two previous levels of experience have triggered. It is at this level that our level of education and culture come into play, adding social, cultural, historical or spiritual implications to what we are looking at.

The fourth rung of the emotional ladder is creative impact, where we analyze the photographic language used, the aesthetics of the image at a more rational and analytical level, the creative approach and the result it has produced.

The fifth and final level is expressiveness and originality. Expressiveness could be summarized quite succinctly as the ability to convey feelings, concepts or moods.

Formulating a clear intent before shooting contributes to obtain shots with a stronger expressiveness, but this is not enough, it is necessary to have a precise vision, so that our photographs shine with expressiveness.

The more levels of emotional experience we attach to our shots, the more our shots will have the ability to succeed and be considered good shots.

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