I have listened to a lot of podcasts recently that discuss variations on photography. They talk about time lapse, macro photography, maps, aerial photography, or panoramas. All are different forms of photography in one way or another.
And yet they are the exact same thing as “basic” photography. Photography, if done well, allows the viewer to observe a moment in time in a way that they can’t ever do in real life. They can look at the image for as long as they want and examine the minute details that make up that moment.
For instance, if you look at a shot of a bird flying, you can look at the body position, the way the feathers bend, the range of colors in the feathers, and other things that you can’t see with the naked eye. Why? Because it is a bird in flight frozen in time. You can’t do that while standing and watching a bird fly by.
Photography catches one moment and freezes it to look at later. Time lapse, macro, panoramas, etc. all do the same thing. They take an object or a scene and present it in a way that we can’t see with our naked eye.
A crowd entering a stadium. If you just stood there and watched, it would probably be boring. But make a time lapse of that scene and you could watch the ebb and flow of the crowd and observe the patterns of movement. Just as slow motion allows the viewer to observe the finite motion of something at a speed in which their brain can process it.
A map or aerial photography seems to fascinate people because it shows spacial relationships people can’t see from the ground.
You have probably seen a sand dollar before, but in the macro shot above, you can see the details that aren’t really visible to the viewer with out the help of the lens. The size, shape, and patterns of the holes become more apparent.
The reason that all of these are popular and people take a moment to look at them is because they get to see the world in a new way. It is seeing differently and people are fascinated when they get to view the world from a different point of view.
I try to keep that in mind when taking a photograph. How can I shoot this that lets the viewer see the scene differently?