Photography – our imagination as a viewer

glenn-capers-e1595600Another input from Glenn Capers:

“the story behind” is not only the story of the photographer and the creation of images, but also the story of the viewers and their imagination. Think about it…..

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The following are excerpts from “A Wide and Fleshly Love: Images, Imagination, and the Study of Christian Spirituality” by Wendy M. Wright, found in Minding the Spirit, Dreyer & Burrows, eds., Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore 2005) p 322-323

“…images shape the imagination and thus transform lives.”

“…the imagination [is] an essential capability inherent in all human perception.  We need our imaginations to see what is familiar as well as what is unfamiliar.  We do not directly perceive something called ‘reality,’ but perception and interpretation occur simultaneously.  We image, sort, organize and see patterns and meanings in every moment of our lives.”

“Images engage the whole person.  They excite emotions and encourage empathy… They inform the intellect by giving access to realms of being not immediately visible.”

As I was reading this article, some photographs came immediately to my mind.  I have images from the gypsy camps in Italy, most notably the images of “Little Number 9.” 


Here we see a little girl who lives in acute poverty, who is uneducated and disenfranchised and a member of a despised community living on the very margins of society. 

Yet I captured her as she poses in her finest clothes, and we are brought to see realms of being not immediately visible in this young girl’s life—her dreams for herself, her soul beauty. 




Wright tells us  “…as a culture…we seem to have lost track of the arts of transformative seeing.” 




That may be true in the aggregate, but I consider myself as a transformative seer whose work opens our perception and interpretation simultaneously.



Every image in the series is multi-layered and evocative, exciting our emotions and encouraging empathy.

Glenn Capers






Its a difference in seeing people in another environment. Its another point of view feeling poverty, feeling depreviation, feeling hopelessness, if you are living on the bright side of life. However, do all people see it the same way? In my experience satisfaction is not a question of abundance. The challenge is to make a life out of the situation we are in. Isn´t it?

Photography as part of our life can be a bit of voyeurism, it can represent the truth, it can be graceless, but it can also tell a story gently.

The perception, a photographer would like to point out, may not be identical with the viewer´s feelings. But photography always is connected to imagination.

Matthias Moritz

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13 thoughts on “Photography – our imagination as a viewer

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  1. Perhaps here lies the answer as to what transforms photography from a straightforward representation of an event/situation into an art form.Thank you Glenn, best regards,cathy

  2. Perhaps here lies the answer to what transforms photography from a straight forward represenation of an event/situation into an art form expressing and eliciting emotion. Thank you, Glenn.Best regards, cathy

  3. Brilliant work !

  4. Really interesting and emotional idea!
    Regards Mauro

  5. Really interesting and emotional idea!
    Great Job Glenn!
    Regards Mauro

  6. fantastic work.imagination gives us that pleasure which some times we can not get

  7. good post.
    thank you for that.

  8. Fimmer -

    I agree with you. Photography must not be “arty”. What defines a good photographer is to have the eye, too see reality in just a fleeting moment. Next moment the picture is already gone!

  9. I agree with you on your thoughtful study. Imagination, mostly rely on what we thought of happiness and of beauty or perhaps, truth?

  10. Wonderfully said and explained….showing how photography goes sooo far beyond…simply pushing a button.
    A good friend and wonderful photographer told me….you know, photography….could also be described as psychology :). – Nina