What is photographic intention?
The intention is both the motivation and reason for taking the photo and the desired result.
Becoming more intentional in your smartphone photography is one of the first transformational steps towards producing photos that have a more considered meaning than snapshots.
Shooting with intent means you take into consideration many aspects of the photo you're creating, including the intended outcome.
Photographic intention Vs goals
Have you noticed travellers taking photos of everything? Quite often, their photo intention is to record what is in front of them.
Your intention is much more meaningful than that! Your intent when you create photos is aligned with your overall goal in photography. We all have different goals in photography. In this article, I listed 88 different reasons
we have a passion for photography. Your goal may be to create a social media-worthy photo for others to enjoy, want to win a photography award or hanging a print on your wall.
If your goal is to win a camera club competition, then research how the judge assesses the photo submissions. This informs your choices and preparation to become more intentional in your photo capture and editing.
Photo intention Vs storytelling
Photo intent is the subject choice, the preparation, the plan and the desired outcome of the vision for the photo.
Storytelling is the way you engage with the viewer to visually communicate a narrative that they interpret using their experiences and imagination.
The combination of intention and storytelling informs your decisions to select the best compositional techniques, use of light, tones and colour at the capture and editing stage to further enhance the viewer's experience.
Pause to consider the intention
Before taking a photo - pause to recognise what motivated you to take the photo. What was the stimulus that you are reacting to? Is it the tones, colours, shapes, forms or lighting that caught your attention?
Subject and story clarity allow you to experiment with different ways to capture and communicate that subject. You will start to think like a photographer now, by:
Capturing an anticipated moment is always done with intent. Street photography is a very difficult genre to capture compelling photos. One of my favourite techniques is to find a location with strong lighting contrast, or interesting shapes and lines. Next, I predict and wait for a person to interact with the scene or capture a gesture with another person.
Intention helps choose manual settings
Imagine your photo intention to capture bees flying to and from the flower. That decision will lead to the use of a camera replacement app to manually control ISO and shutter speed. If you want the best possible resolution photo, you will consider lighting amount and quality, stabilisation and capture techniques.
Intention improves composition
Having an idea of what you want your photo to communicate helps dramatically to consider your position, subject position, supporting contextual element positions.
Intention guides photo editing
Knowing the intent of a photo will also be invaluable when it comes to the editing process. You will know exactly what to introduce, enhance, remove and/or reduce to re-create the authenticity of the scene or moment as you saw it. Your editing workflow will be more strategic, efficient, effective and fun!
An Instagram filter or purchased Lightroom preset does not know what intention you had for the photo. Knowing the desired outcome and learning the when, why and how of editing tools will ensure a photo that you will be proud to post, share and print.
Knowing the intention will ensure that when you look at the photo opportunity, you will know exactly what to do. As you practise smartphone photography, your decisions that align with the photographic intention will become subconscious.
Practising photographic intention gives you more confidence and more enjoyment in your creative journey.