A fun idea: as a modern photographer, you are no longer a ‘photographer’, but an ‘imager’— someone who makes images.


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Photograph vs picture vs image

Photograph: Must be taken with a camera.

Picture: Can be made with a camera, paintbrush, pencil, or any other visual tool.

Image: A picture you perceive in your mind, and interpret it for yourself.

Photographs vs pictures

Cindy with hands over her face. Saigon, 2017
A photograph and a picture of Cindy.

A photograph is a picture.

Not all pictures are photographs.

What is a picture?

Outline. A picture of Cindy, but not a photograph.
A picture of Cindy, but not a photograph.

A picture is a two-dimensional image you can perceive. You can see a picture on your phone, laptop, or as a print in the real world.

What is an image?

Cindy yukata uji sketch trace.
A digital illustration/picture of Cindy. Question to myself, “What image of Cindy do I have in my mind?”

An image:

When your brain imagines a visual representation of something, inside your mind.

For example, what image do you have of ‘success’ in your mind?
1. Do you see pictures of fancy luxury cars, fancy watches, bags of money?
2. Or more abstract notions like ‘power’, ‘influence’, or ‘wealth’?

An image can be a concrete picture in your mind, or an abstract notion.

You are an ‘imager’!

Eye by Annette Kim.
Eye by Annette Kim

Therefore my point is that you’re not just a photographer. A photographer just makes photographs.

You are an ‘imager’—you embed meaning into your photographs and pictures. You create VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS of concepts and ideas in your photographs/pictures.

Red lines.

For example, you create an image of ‘love’ with your camera. What images do you have of love? Concrete pictures like hearts, angels, and kisses? Or abstract images and concepts like warmth, closeness, and sacrifice?

Flowers roses.

Cindy with elbows flared outwards.
Cindy. Saigon, 2017

Kiss. A closeup shot of Cindy’s lipstick on the mirror.

What is the duty of an imager?

Cindy looking up, yelllow background and trees. Hanoi, 2016

As an ‘imager’— your duty isn’t to make pretty pictures. Your duty is to create MEANING in your pictures.

You are trying to use a camera to document, analyze, and understand the world around you.

Pink sunset. Bangkok, 2017.

As an ‘imager’, your camera is just your visual research tool. The camera as your stethoscope.

Bangkok Red tools.

Assignments for imagers

Red abstract texture.

If you want to build your ‘imaging’ skills, try to make photographs or pictures which show how you depict reality, how you interpret reality, and what kind of personal meaning you embed into your pictures/photographs.

Cindy with goggles, virtual reality.

Try to document the following:

  2. Suffering (SUITS project)
  3. Death (self-portraiture, Memento Mori photography)

Questions to ask yourself

Eric Kim vector face, Black and White grey by Annette Kim

I’m still working through this concept of ‘imager’ — I know the ideas are half-baked.

But things for you to research on your own and question for yourself:

  1. What is the difference between a photograph, a picture, and an image?
  2. What is an ‘imaging’ company?
  3. How would you define ‘image’?


Photography Philosophy

Eric Kim cubist

Why do you make photos? Reflect in PHOTO JOURNAL: