More still on FAQ #511
More on “difficulty” and “meaning”
One of the most difficult challenges for any photographer, of almost any subject, is achieving clarity and simplicity of composition (that is, in the “layout” or “arrangement” of the photograph).
The easiest way to conquer this challenge, of course, is simply to clone out undesired and distracting elements from the photograph after it is recorded.
But to viewers, that’s just not the same.
So why do most viewers find a photograph less “meaningful” when its simple composition was achieved by deleting things after the photo was recorded instead of when the simplicity was achieved at the time of exposure?
Because an undoctored photograph that exhibits “clarity” and “simplicity” in composition reassures the viewer about the presence of those traits in the real world — while a doctored photograph does not provide that reassurance.
“[Form is beautiful] because it helps us meet our worst fear, the suspicion that life is chaos and that therefore our suffering is without meaning.”
— Photographer Robert Adams, in Beauty in Photography
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