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How can I better incorporate my photography with symbolism?

Im in 8th grade and have been taking photographs in a portfolio for a while, and I also like to write. But when I try to take pictures, I want to create a bigger meaning. How can I do that?

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Michelle’s Answer

Hello. Andrea !

Wow, what a phenomenally awesome question ! So happy to know that you have a portfolio started, too ! Using symbolism in your photography may be helped by your love for writing, too.

The very first thing that came to my mind for you to do symbolic photography is to delve into Macrophotography. In case you haven't done macro, it is very close up photography of ordinary things. I found a video for instruction on this that you may find interesting. I thought of this right away because a friend is a macro photographer and every time I look at his work it has a certain meaning to me. If you venture into macro, perhaps you can name your piece something that you believe it symbolizes. Art always can mean something different to everyone, though. Do the symbolism that comes from you. It will have a certain special meaning to all that view it.

Secondly, I thought it would be cool to use a model that is dressed in a symbolic (your choice) outfit and has many props around as symbols, in a certain space with certain furniture, all symbolizing something you create. It may be helpful to establish a theme, issue or thought by writing it out first so you can situate what the symbolism is and start with the thoughts you've written down. This would almost be like Performance Art but as photography. You must first think about what you want to convey in your photo and jot down words or inspirations that will direct your photo.

I have left some links for you below that you may find interesting and hopefully inspiring. I would also highly recommend going to Pinterest and search for additional tips, examples and inspiration. The more you learn about symbolism on its own, the easier it will be to incorporate it into your photography. Do a literary study of it and you can easily incorporate it into photographs. You have to start out knowing what you're working with and what you want to symbolize. I've left a link below that tells of different symbols you can use to begin with, but do a search for more reading about what symbolizes what and choose symbols that you feel close to and want to express.

I hope that this is helpful and I wish you all the best is this fantastic venture !

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

MACROPHOTOGRAPHY COURSE ONLINE FREE (WITH VIDEO) https://www.photographycourses.biz/macro_photography_tips.html
BEGINNERS GUIDE TO MACROPHOTOGRAPHY https://www.format.com/magazine/resources/photography/macro-photography-beginners-guide
TIPS FOR SYMBOLISM IN PHOTOGRAPHY https://fixthephoto.com/symbolism-in-photography.html
IDEAS FOR USING SYMBOLISM IN PHOTOGRAPHY https://clickstory.in/symbolism-and-metaphor-photography-ideas/
SYMBOLISM IN PHOTOGRAPHY https://discover.hubpages.com/art/Photographing-Methaphors-and-Symbolism LEARN ABOUT SYMBOLISM https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/symbolism-examples
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Tom’s Answer

Congrats on getting this kind of headstart, you're on the right track to do something great if you so choose. As a writer, symbolism is kind of subjective since one thing that means something to you might mean less than nothing to another person. The link between your thoughts and the person looking at your work is the story that your image tells. Find a way, through lighting, positioning, etc., that they can comprehend and see. There are a lot of different tricks to make this work, but your interpretation needs to come through in the image you produce. Best of luck you.
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Larry’s Answer

Hi Andrea from New York, New York, a town so awesome that had to name it twice! (I am from there as well).

This is an excellent question that in my experience as a writer and a photographer, one that only you can ultimately answer.

For me, it's this:
"Much of my photography is intended to evoke a feeling rather than just being another pretty picture. To me, old and abandoned places tell a story. They are what was and what is now. They’re part history and part imagination. My photos try to capture to connection between the two."

While I've been taking photos of old places for a long time, it took me many years to figure out what it is about this subject matter that speaks to me and then to try to then find the right words and images that capture that feeling so that others might understand.

It might not be today. It might not be tomorrow but you will figure it out. In the meantime, keep taking pix and give yourself time to figure out what speaks to you.

I hope this helps even just a little bit. :)
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Hugo’s Answer

A minimalistic way of applying your knowledge and putting feelings into the elements it’s what can make the difference, find between all the elements you have in-front of you, color, texture, lines, shadows, diagonals, pick 3 of them and experiment with low light, low contrast to find a feeling, all is about what you feel.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Andrea,

Understanding Symbolism in Photography:

Incorporating symbolism into your photography can add depth and meaning to your images, allowing you to convey a message or evoke emotions beyond the literal interpretation of the scene. Here are some steps you can take to better incorporate symbolism into your photography:

1. Choose Meaningful Subjects: Select subjects that hold symbolic significance or represent abstract concepts. For example, using objects like keys to symbolize unlocking opportunities or doors to represent new beginnings can add layers of meaning to your photographs.

2. Utilize Colors and Lighting: Colors and lighting play a crucial role in conveying emotions and symbolism in photography. Different colors evoke specific feelings or associations, so consider the color palette of your images carefully. Experiment with lighting techniques to create mood and emphasize the symbolic elements within your photographs.

3. Composition and Framing: The composition of your photographs can also contribute to their symbolic value. Pay attention to framing, angles, and perspective to guide the viewer’s interpretation of the image. Consider using techniques like leading lines or framing within a frame to draw attention to key symbolic elements.

4. Incorporate Symbolic Objects: Including objects with symbolic meanings in your photographs can enhance their narrative quality. For instance, incorporating elements like mirrors, clocks, or masks can symbolize reflection, time passing, or hidden identities, respectively.

5. Tell a Story: Use your photography as a storytelling medium by creating visual narratives that incorporate symbolism. Think about how each element in the frame contributes to the overall story you want to convey, adding layers of meaning through symbolism.

6. Research Symbolism: Expand your understanding of symbolism by exploring different cultural, historical, and literary symbols. This knowledge can inspire new ideas for incorporating meaningful symbols into your photography projects.

By following these steps and experimenting with different techniques, you can elevate your photography by infusing it with deeper layers of symbolism and meaning.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used:

The Art Story: This source provides insights into various art movements, including how symbolism has been used in visual arts throughout history.

Photography Life: A reputable source for photography enthusiasts, offering tips and tutorials on advanced photography techniques such as incorporating symbolism into images.

National Geographic Photography Guide: Known for its stunning visual storytelling, National Geographic’s photography guides often explore the use of symbolism in capturing powerful narratives through images.

These sources were consulted to provide accurate and reliable information on incorporating symbolism into photography for aspiring photographers like yourself.

God Bless You, Richly, JC.
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