#635. Is photography creation or just depicting creation ?

By Steffen Kamprath | Opinion

Aug 24

This question has been whirling around in my head for quite a while. There are different ways to look at it, e.g. legally, as a photographer may interfere with copyrights or personal rights of other people. This article is solely based on philosophical aspects.


The photographic process

Idyllic South Tyrol

Looking at the photographic process, whether it be with large format glass plate, film, DSLR, mobile phone or by any other means often is looked upon as :

1) the photographer is seeing a scene worth taking a picture (the above panorama containing a more energetic than artistic tag for me)
4) he/she frames it
5) shoots it

Happy with that simplification ? Well, even if we add …

2) carefully select the gear / focal length for the desired view
3) choosing appropriate aperture/exposure for the desired look and
6) postprocessing (whether with software or in the darkroom)

… yes, yes, Pascal, cleaning the sensor of your current lens-holder and the Otus with melting water of Himalayan snow, while waiting for the right light, screwing a magic filter on and all your other little secrets …

… we seem to be missing out on the main issue …


What is creation ?


Phalaenopsis amabilis, documentary depiction


From an overall perspective we might agree that creation is ALL THAT IS, with the implication that it had to be created/developed at a certain stage of existence. If it already is, does the photographer CREATE something ? Or is it creating his/her VIEW of creation ?


Scientific View


Let’s start with elementary particle physics. A camera sensor collects photons reflected from an object in order to read out an imaging result. Photons are elementary particles, which show interesting behaviour: they may act like a particle or like a wave. When a single photon is passing a lens system, there may be wave interference, leading to an alteration of the wave – even by itself !

As a first interpretation I am questioning whether ‘Live View’ of my camera really is WYSIWYG, though I must admit that it is a helpful tool.


Lake Achensee, Austria


If we dive a bit deeper, we find out that elementary particles seem to behave/act according to the belief of the researcher or the person conducting the experiment. This is proof of the self-fulfilling prophecy on a micro level.

The Princeton University has been developing models to enable better understanding of the role of consciousness in the establishment of physical reality. They even proved that a person may move objects like balls in a falling board just by their consciousness (macro level) : http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/


Osteospermum aida, macro


There are also studies of technical behaviour when a form of consciousness is present.

Perhaps the consciousness of the photographer influences the photons which are collected by the sensor/film ?



The development of the human eye with all its complexity by evolution does not seem to be possible. It was computed that it would take about 50.000 years.

This is about the age of the oldest man-like archeological findings. So how about evolution of the rest ? Either the time calculated was wrong or a creator must have created creation.


Phalaenopsis amabilis, processed to taste


Many leading scientists have found indications that the latter must be the case. ‘The biology of Belief’, written by Bruce Lipton is an interesting book for the biologists among DS readers. On the internet you may find a lot of studies, which prove the effect of the psyche on health issues – again showing the influence of consciousness on matter.

Another biological aspect is the process of seeing, which is not just a matter of light rays reaching our cornea, but involves nerves, and parts of the brain. If we look into studies regarding the perception of scenes, it shows up that people remember completely different things of the scene. Perception seems to be bound to consciousness.


The role of the photographer in creation

It makes sense to think about our personal responsibility in/about Creation. Pictures contain information and energy. If we take/show/publish photos which are beautiful, inspiring, emotionally uplifting, we :

1) … keep/fixate this state in the photo and in the mind of the viewers
2) … make others believe, that this is reality/normality etc. (there is a strong belief that a photo is depiction of reality, though confidence levels have been dropping with the awareness of post processing possibilities).
3) When taking photos of beautiful scenery and spreading them (like on the DS blog), we add positive energy into maintaining this wonderful planet.


Mountain View, Italy.


So keep on searching for the creator in you !

With love for the creation, light for you and your camera,


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  • Ronald Thain says:

    Photography could be defined as no more nor less than a graphical process employed to present visual information in a two-dimensional space. The vast majority of photographs taken, from landscapes to portraits to x-rays, are simply visual records of an event, where the nature of the subject is all that matters. Creativity arises when a graphical artist has produced something in the formal relationships within that two-dimensional space using the elements of the subject which is entirely new, never having existed before.

  • PaulB says:


    The short answer to your question is, YES!

    Though it also begs additional questions. Such as do you mean creative in the sense of addition, or the sense of subtraction?

    For addition, the photographer would need to bring several elements together and arrange them in the field of view of the lens. Still life and portraits would be examples of creative photography. The degree of success would be determined by impression or impact to the viewer.

    For subtraction, the photographer would need to remove elements in the scene and choose which elements to keep or partially keep. This is very much like sculpture. Something of interest or beauty may be hidden in plane sight, but it takes creativity and practice to recognize it and bring it out into the open.


  • Fabrizio Giudici says:

    It is also searching for symbolic meanings in Creation.

  • Talking about copyright and creation: This (wonderful) post is not from me, nor do I know the author (the article ends with “Oliver”), or do know why he uses my account to publish his article … just in case you wonder how flexible my style is (it’s not 😉 ).

  • Nikolay Mirchev says:

    The topic covered in this blog post is very intriguing and controversial.
    I also, sort of, covered similar topic in one of my blog post – just like to contribute to the main discussion in the article above.

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