Your General Culture Allows You to Create Photos with Strong Symbolic Power

This artistic photograph of Yellowstone in the United States appeals to the imagination: calm, serenity, sweetness.
This artistic photograph of Yellowstone in the United States appeals to the imagination: calm, serenity, sweetness.

The Symbolic Power of Photographs

Symbolism is at the heart of the creation of artistic photographs. Symbolism is a spiritual conception of our world. It is a means of expression that delves beyond the simple realistic representation of an object or situation.

The symbolic representation of nature through artistic photography makes it possible to evoke nature, states of mind, and abstract ideas without their exploitation. It is the opposite of logical thinking that exploits the data of reality.

Symbolism makes it possible to associate a concrete image with an abstraction. Using symbolism, an artist transposes an idea into an image thus creating suggestive analogies.

Using symbols and images in a certain way makes it possible to grasp a hidden reality, to establish links between the visible and the invisible world. Artistic photographs are created not only to realistically describe scenes but also to express the impressions perceived by the photographer.

Symbolism in photography is a fun concept. It makes sense of a scene or a shot. A photographer can always have fun finding a hidden meaning and staging it into the photography he creates.

Nature offers powerful themes for creating symbolic photos and attracting the eye of an informed observer.

For example, a red rose is a symbol of love; a wheat field evokes life and renewal. The egrets of the common dandelion are a metaphor for life, death, and rebirth.

Artistic photographs of landscapes remind me of the incredible beauty of the preserved nature. Reflections on the water suggest tranquility, calmness, and serenity. The repetition of motifs in a photograph suggests a certain order and meaning to the world around me.

If I go back to my parallels with documentary photography, I can say that these endeavors never translate into artistic symbolism. In these cases, photography was used as a method for documentation of factual evidence, which is a major difference from artistic photography.

General culture is essential to understanding artistic photography. I have found that my customers’ discussions can often last for hours before the final purchase. My customers’ interests and concerns are, for me, just as important as the artwork itself.

General culture is not only an asset for the observer of photographic works.

General Culture: A Necessity for the Creator of Photographic Works

For an artistic photographer who has chosen to create artistic photographs, general culture is a real asset. It is just as indispensable as his equipment and technical knowledge of photography.

Culture allows him to create symbolic works and provide true meaning to his artistic approach. The different medium of art provides both the photographer and the viewer with a richer and more beautiful environment, whether it be in literature, music, painting, sculpture, dance, etc. Each medium allows inspiration and themes to arise and flourish through photography.

I am not saying that you should become a specialist in every field, but just a basic understanding of the construction of the works or the way the artists incorporates material can have a lasting impact on both the photographer and the viewer.

Having a well-rounded appreciative background will allow the individual to formulate a unique perception of reality.

However, I also agree that a photographer can create art photographs without having a solid background in general culture.

I met photographers who created only under the influence of emotion. They did not ask about the importance of symbolism or the placement of second-rate messages through imagery. Nevertheless, I have continued to see these artists’ source of inspiration dry up swiftly, wiping the slate clean. It is at these points in life that the artists encounter artists’ block. Even if their photographic style was identifiable and their essentials were fully formulated, these photographers continued using the same rules of composition and framing, never branching out into new and exciting territory. I are no longer surprised when I observe these artists’ failing endeavors.

Often, I compare artistic photography to a marathon. This process is not a quick sprint. The “race” is slow and personal. It lasts for a long period of time. To maintain a source of inspiration, one must open his mind to ideas from the outside world. He must acquire information on different techniques, artistic forms, and human activities in general. In short, I encourage a strong general culture.

An art photographer must be interested in the world surrounding him. He must also obtain many human qualities, as we will see in another column.

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For an artistic photographer, encountering culture provides the tools to capture the throbbing pulse of the world and transcribe it into his art photographs. Once these heartbeats are decrypted and analyzed, he can reflect the meanings in his artistic photos. If he does not have these tools, he will be unable to accurately capture the value of the pulsing life surrounding him.

Each Artist Possesses Different Levels of General Knowledge

It is obvious that the level of general culture is different for individuals with varying backgrounds. Each person has his own history, his own interests, and his own priorities. Moreover, each ethnic group, each culture, and each country has its unique details that make stand alone. Observers from one country will judge photographic works from another country with a different perspective. But is it important? The answer is no. Indeed, the greater the diversity, the more creative work occurs.

Regardless of the level of culture a photographer has, the important thing is for him or her to be interested in the surroundings. I myself strive to identify, understand, and translate my emotions associated with the world based on what we have learned.


Whether you are an observer or a creator of artistic photographs, general culture is an asset for understanding and creating works. It allows the artist to set up messages for the viewers to read and interpret.

For an artistic photographer, general culture makes it possible to develop a style and to refine one's artistic approach to better deliver one's messages and emotions.

General culture is a precious asset for creating and appreciating art photography.

Be humble, patient, constant, persevering, and persistent because the road to excellence is long.


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