Let’s talk about meta-photography

When it comes to photography I believe that improvements come from two different levels. A first, more tangible and well-grounded level about technicalities (exposure, cameras, gears, rules of composition, and so on) and a second, more abstract one a kind of meta-level. I will call this level, meta-photography and with this definition I mean << a level or degree (of understanding, existence, etc.) which is higher and often more abstract than those levels at which a subject, etc., is normally understood or treated; an above level, beyond, or outside other levels, or which is inclusive of a series of lower levels >> You can look at it as a kind of Vipassana meditation about the nature of photography itself, a deeper reflection related to being aware when taking pics around. But not only that. Since photography it is a sense-making and decision-making activity, it is important to apply an appropriate collection of thinking tools that can help us in making sense at the speed of light, not through a long deeply analytical process but more in a conceptual-abstract (but still effective) way.

As a photographer (or a person who takes photos) I know that I can do better in many aspects: composition, patience, fishing, mindfulness about subjects and environment surrounding me, cadences and regularity in taking pictures, use of lights, and many other things. These things here still are technicalities and are mainly a matter of regular practice and perseverance, just like the athletes that train themselves before the Olympics. We need a strong will, dedication and passion, but not only: do we also need to think about these aspects we would like to improve at a meta-level. For example: what is light for human beings? How the photos co-evolve with the environment? What’s the role of time when patience comes into play? What do we mean by “being aware” in a constant-changing environment like the streets? How do black and white affect our decision-making process in taking pictures? What’s the role of colour instead?

I believe I’m a better thinker rather than a photographer and photography is also a way to inform my thoughts and my views on life, the world, the universe and everything else. That’s why I always say that for me, “photography is a form of meaning creation”. But the opposite is also true: my view on life, the world and the universe inform my photos as well. Moreover, I noticed that many of my competencies and skills as a thinker and knowledge worker could inform for good my photographer’s identity as well.

So that’s why for me meta-photography is important in the same way talking about photography is. An analogy could be the relationship that links theoretical physics and experimental physics or observing your thoughts and emotions through a meditative process and in the end you are able to reduce stress and anxiety.

The ancient Greeks used to define “praxis” as << the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realized >> and that’s why I see meta-photography as valuable because it equips us as photographers with the theory and the proper thinking models that can be turned into a competitive advantage thanks to praxis.

In the near future, my idea is to publish and produce content at a meta-photography level and use this blog as a playground in which theories and practical implications of these theories — along with thinking models — can coevolve with photography itself.



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MattCarella photo

MattCarella photo

Taking pictures is a form of meaning creation.