Phil Douglis, photography. Phil Douglis, photography. “I call this my pbase ‘cyberbook’ on expressive travel photography and travel photojournalism. Each of these galleries is an educational resource, demonstrating a key aspect of what goes into making pictures express ideas to viewers. When taken together, they will offer you a comprehensive, step-by-step instructional guide to the process of making travel photographs that will say something about your subjects, instead of merely describing them.
Most travel photographers start out by making pictures of things to simply describe what they see. I call this the literal travel snapshot. Most travel snapshots are made to preserve private meanings. Many photographers will eventually move on to a second phase – making aesthetically pleasing pictures that enhance what they saw. I call this the ‘artistic’ snapshot – essentially the same as a lovely picture post card or a calendar illustration. This cyberbook does not concern itself with either of these phases. Instead, I demonstrate what goes into a third phase – interpreting the things you see on your travels to express meaning to others. I call these pictures ‘expressive’ images. They are images made for public, rather than private meanings. Expressive photography, like all art, offers universal, and often metaphorical, statements.
What is expressive imagery? It is photography that interprets, rather than describes, what we see to others. It tells a story, going beyond conveying information for its own sake. It becomes metaphorical.
Expressive photography is based upon the three principles I demonstrate in the first three galleries of this cyberbook: Abstraction, Incongruity, and Human Values. Abstraction removes literal, descriptive clutter and hones an image down to its essence and encourages unlimited thinking. Incongruity presents elements that seem to be at odds with their context and creates contrasts and juxtapositions that stimulate both the emotions and the imagination. Human values convey the emotions, beliefs, traditions and knowledge that we understand and share as humans.
I believe that human values hold the key to expressive photography. They stand at the base of a triangle of principles upon which I build my images. Abstraction runs up one side of this triangle, incongruity the other, and human values supports both of them. Without this triangle, expression does not occur, and without human values, the triangle does not stand, because abstraction and incongruity will have no anchor.”