Our perceptions of world are unique in two ways. First of all they are unique from the perceptions of others. Although two people might agree that something is “fun” they don’t experience “fun” in the exact same way as each other. The second way it’s unique is that, unlike the physical things and forces that exist outside of our mind, we cannot explain our perceptions to others, at least, not on a level to which they can completely understand exactly what we mean. Take color for instance. You can’t explain color nor can you know that you perceive it the same as someone else. It’s an interesting thought, and Michael Stevens does an excellent job of explaining it:
So how does this apply to photography? Well, you could say that it affects the way we see colors in photographs, but I think it goes much deeper than that. I think it affects all of the various aspects that we see in photography, not just color, but composition, point of view, motion, noise, highlights and shadows, post-processing, etc. How do we know that we are perceiving an image in the same way? How do I know that you see the highlights and shadows or noise or color of a photo in the same way that I see them?
There’s no way of knowing. This subsequently affects how we feel about a photo, and since we can’t tell if or how we perceive things differently, then we can’t separate this from our feelings about a photo. Say you really like an image, but your friend hates it. Is it because he doesn’t like the same things as you or because he’s not perceiving the same things that you are? Perhaps if he saw the photo the same way that you saw it then he would like it.
This only makes things more difficult when trying to look at photography objectively. In trying to delineate what is good and what is bad in photography, we should take into account the other person’s perception, but we can’t, even though it could make all the difference.
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