Conceptual Photography?

As a methodology conceptual photography is a type of photography that is staged to represent an idea. The 'concept' is both preconceived and, if successful, understandable in the completed image. That is according to Wikipedia. If you look further, the description becomes fuzzy. Doesn't all photography illustrate an idea? Isn't all photography staged in some way, if only in the choice of what to photograph and how to frame it. It seems to me that the deliberate placing of objects in a picture in order to express an idea, consciously or unconsciously is a little better description. This can be done at the time that photograph is taken or after in post-processing.


I have been searching for meaning in my photos. I want to be able to describe what I wanted to say with a given photo beyond the "this is purdy" remarks. There is nothing wrong with taking a photo of pretty things or ugly things for that matter. I think that I can use photography as a means to discover things about myself. What I find important. What struggles I am or have had. Can photography do that for me? Who knows.


I have been watching a video series on creative live by Jennifer Thoreson. She is a self described conceptual photographer who has made work that expresses her personality, upbringing and challenges. I find some of the work fascinating and others just odd. In the video she describes how she came to decide what direction to take with her photographs. "What do you want to make work about?" becomes a central question. It seems to me that this is the hard part. Do I want to make work about my life or a small part of it? What is my belief system? How do I identify myself? These are all things that at my age I should have answers to but I am having a hard time putting them into words. I am excited to try to answer some of them, hopefully in my photographs.


There are some how are reading this that think that I have already expressed myself in the photos I have taken. This is probably true. Why do I need to be able to describe it? Why not just let the photos express it for me? I am not sure but it is a process that I am going to attempt. It think that I will give myself a year to try to figure it out.




Little baby By Jennifer Thoreson

© 2018 by Grissom Photography

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