The Four Joys of Photography

There are four joys in creating any art, such as digital images are the processes of image creation, processing, printing, and public display. Each stage of the artistic process is as pleasurable as the next, but the joy of moving through all four stages is greater than the sum of each. As you cycle through them, the next stage tells you about the previous one and provides ideas about approaching your next image. Each stage is filled with creativity and discovery. If one primarily posts on the internet, the last two stages are different from a gallery display but still an important way to experience the four joys.

Image Creation

The image creation process is one of learning to see and developing your photographic eye. This process involves traditional tools, which I have covered in a previous post, Composition and Framing. I also use a walking practice to bring photography into a regular part of my life, like going to the gym or yoga. In the walking practice, I use exercises to find ways of being more aware of my intuitive self, a doorway into developing a photographic eye. In other words adding my camera to a routine exercise walk, where intuition is used to find compositions. In this way, my awareness of the compositional potential of my surroundings increases.

Image Processing

The second joy of photography is processing an image to potentially communicate to others the intensity of the emotional reaction I experience that brought me to bring the camera to my eye and make an image. It is an intensely personal way of expressing through an image your experience of the world around you. The images below are a simple example of this process.

The image below is the RAW image directly from the camera.

RAW unprocessed image

This next image is the process of colour and exposure correction to create an image that can be used more effectively to express the moment’s experience.

Processed using Lightroom

The corrected image is then further processed to return the intensity of the light and coolness of the shadows. More accurately, expressing the sense and feel of the moment that drew me to react to the scene and bring the camera to my eye.

Final Image


If I were to print the final image, it would be at a much higher resolution than what appears on the screen, and the colour gamut would differ as well as its appearance. A computer scene typically is 72 dots per inch, whereas a photographic print is 300 dots per inch. There is also a big difference between how an image looks when it is backlit on a computer screen with Red, Green and Blue pixels and what the same image looks like on a very white Hot Press Bright paper after many pigment colours have been applied. Seeing the print come out of a printer and physically holding it in your hands is a wonderful tactile experience, and often like seeing the image anew; or more accurately, in a different light and different medium. Often this process will force me to rethink my method of processing. If this is the case, I may make another print with different adjustments.

Public Display

Taking an image and framing it behind museum glass, printing it on aluminum using a dye sublimation process, or placing the image in a lightbox transforms the image. There is a formality in this process, and as it is lifted to your living room wall, your local coffee shop or a formal gallery, it takes on a new look and feel. People react to the image through this process, and you get feedback that you will apply to your next image-making process. This ritual is not just feedback but also a celebration and a sharing with others. I often find other artists then plays with my ideas using their unique methods and style; this artistic dialectic often opens up new ideas for me.