Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Recently, I've been snapping away like mad, trying to satisfy a yen for my new hobby, photography. My little Sony RX100 III has carried the load effortlessly, letting me learn and compose and attempt without a heavy rock of apparatus around my neck.

My constant shutter clicking has led me to Instagram, an online platform for buffs of all shapes and sizes and skill levels who post photos of cars and buildings and fashion and the night sky and abandoned factories and subway stations and girlfriends and boyfriends and cats and dogs and sunsets and restaurants and food, and and and ... and the selfie. Can't forget the selfie.

The flow of the Instagram feed led me to thinking this morning, there must be a taxonomy to the photos in Instagram. So, in my usual offhand way, I started to sketch one. Here it is.

  • Lenses. Some photos are just ways of demonstrating the power and the precision of the lens. These photos are remarkable for technical reasons, much of which has to do with the glass attached to the front of the photographer's camera. Crystal clear shots using massive magnification and telephoto properties fall under this category.
  • Access. Some photos are about demonstrating exclusive access to a person or a place or a thing. The recent photograph of the brakes on a Formula 1 car is just such a photo. The purpose of that photo is as much to tell the viewer, "You will never seen this yourself with your own naked eye. But I the photographer can, and have, and have taken a photograph of it so you can enjoy it."
  • Place and time. Some photographs are about being at the right place and at the right time to capture what Henri Cartier-Bresson called "the decisive moment," and then most importantly, photographing it. 
  • Form. Some photos are explorations of the formal qualities of the photograph itself, the shapes on the page, as it were, and how they are positioned. 
  • Filters. Some photos are about the technicolor magic and distortions that filters can provide to the original colors registered in the initial photograph. The point of the photograph is playing with the ways that filters can alter perceptions.
  • Subject matter. Some photographs are about the things they are depicting, the people and places and things in the photograph.

Most photos are combinations of these elements in differing and varying proportions. 

And some photos are just damn good photos, 'nuff said.