Image and Imagery

As photographers, we’re always working with images and imagery. But what’s the difference between the two and why is it important to keep image and imagery in mind when making pictures?


Image and Imagery

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Image and Imagery


What’s the difference between Image and Imagery?

In brief, image(s) and imagery are what we produce as photographers. With that in mind, when it comes to clarity of thought process, what we do with our camera, and outcome, let’s think about their relationship with what we
do as photographers.


First, let’s define an image as something tangible that we see. In other words, in the case of visual arts, a sculpture, a painting, or in our case, a photograph. And, of course, we must include the things we see in our daily lives.
People, buildings, flowers, etc. In other words, all the things we see and consider photographing.


Second, let’s define imagery as thoughts that arise when seeing an image. In other words, something that happens in our minds.

How Image and Imagery Play Into Photography

Of course, everything we see is an image. Furthermore, when we see images, our mind produces imagery. And consequently,  as photographers, after we see an image, we produce an image with our camera. Additionally, we try to produce an image based on the imagery we experience and we strive to create the best photograph that we can. That being the case, we create our best photographs when we effectively unite image and imagery. Stated differently, we should strive to photograph not just what we see; we need to make an effort to photograph how we think about what we see. However, do we always produce what we consider a “good” picture?

Making an Effort To Unite the Two

To be clear, to create engaging photographs, we need to keep in mind the imagery produced by the images we see and our communication intent when making the picture. To put it another way, “what are we trying to express or say” through the image that we create as a photograph? Of course, it’s essential to consider the imagery we experience in our minds when seeing an image with our eyes. Because, to start with, the imagery we experience provides the foundation for the photograph. Additionally, the imagery that we want to communicate drives how we operate our camera and lens. To be clear about camera operation, what I mean by camera operation is, among other things, our choice of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. And to be clear about our lens, I’m referring to lens choice and whether we want to create an image that is sharply focused, softly focused, or completely unfocused. 

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Image and Imagery


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