Chapter 3

The Individual Image

Visualizing the Essence of things

In fine arts it is evident for the most part, that an artist doesn’t (merely) want to create a copy of reality but rather aims to express himself. With photography things are different. It has the potential to picture people and objects lifelike. This sometimes leads to the assumption that a photograph is an identical reproduction of the original.

Design is more attributed to painting or sculpturing than to photography. But a photographic reproduction of an object is an interpretation in itself. The vantage point of the camera, the chosen perspective, the positioning of the object and the lighting design are just a few elements affecting a photograph’s character and message.

Just like a journalist’s article will never be absolutely objective because of his personal perspective, his education and his cultural background, a photograph is rarely a mere copy of reality, but a conscious design.

Of course the content of the image serves as means of communicating information as well. Proportions, positioning and colours used in a painting, indicate which elements have a great meaning to the artist, and which ones are not. Following this dramaturgy, our attention is drawn to both, the overall impression of the picture and its details. Each individual visual element contributes to the story told by the painting.

A film camera is able to replace this process. By zooming in on important details and taking up different points of view, it tells the story.
The most important artistic decision of the camera person is to select what visual elements we see and to do the framing. Framing is the placement of visual elements within an image’s outline. It is the positioning of a subject (a person or an object) in relation to other objects. At the same time it is the decision about how much we see of their surroundings.

Standard Shot Sizes (/ Framing Heights /Shot Types/ Field Sizes ) have been in use in film production for a long time. They determine the most important aspect when shooting an image, the selection of what to see in the picture. The following section is about shot sizes and their function in films.