Add clarity & depth to your images - Questions for Photographers

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Add clarity & depth to your images - Questions for Photographers
Image: The Debate of Socrates and Aspasia,  Nicolas-André Monsiau 1801

“The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.”

A vital lesson to learn from our inner child: Question everything

Questions draw us forward into novel territory where we can find answers that bring us more meaning. We may not get to that information immediately but the types of questions we ask & the attitude we approach them with will help us get closer. 

When a photographer is taking a photo and they want a message to come through that image - there are a series of questions that they can use to uncover the meaning in raw, technical ways. When they really nail this part, their image can make a deep impact on a viewer immediately and connect a message to their subconscious mind - this is the power of symbolic imagery. 

Image = information

We are surrounded by image - obviously. Not so obvious is that all of it contains information and meaning that is up for our individual interpretation. One person may see a brilliant sunset, another may see how that sunsets light plays on the face of their lover. Photographers present their interpretation of the world when they see something that captures them and click the shutter. 

Here is what I see - do you see the same?

Through the photographer’s eye we gain a glimpse of another perspective. It could be a perspective that focuses on our connection to nature, or highlights the love between two people. 

Whatever the message is, we can help it to come through with more clarity and impact when we ask questions intentionally. 

About the socratic method of questioning

This is a method of communication, developed by Socrates, that aims at listening to, clarifying, understanding & gaining knowledge in order to come closer to the truth of a matter so that a problem can be solved.

Through techniques like perspective shifting, clarification, questioning the question, uncovering consequences, challenging assumptions & looking for evidence, we can find a better path and a clearer vision. 

Questioning ourselves

Usually we would employ this method with another person during a conversation. In this practice we are questioning another part of ourselves.

Psychologists use this method of self dialogue frequently in various therapies, including cognitive-behaviour therapy and Jungian analysis. The assumption is that there are multiple parts of ourselves, for instance our inner child, our inner sage, the archetype of the ego or the shadow that all exist at once and have varying degrees of influence. 

Connecting to the Sage within 

In this exercise we are connecting to the archetype of the Sage or, what may also be called our intuition. Archetypes are potentials that exist within us in many forms, including the archetype of the horse. The Sage archetype is the deep part of ourselves that seems to know more than we are consciously aware of and isn’t motivated by egoic pursuits. It has our highest good in mind, so to speak, and it is wise beyond our own understanding.

We encounter this sage, or call it into being, when our own conscious knowledge cannot solve the problems at hand and we ask for help. This is where questions come in. 

Questioning yourself does three things:

1. It quiets the inner critic

2. It ties you closer to your intuition

3. It shapes your perception from a defensive mode into a receiving mode.

Your doubt may become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become critical. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perplexed and embarrassed perhaps, or perhaps rebellious.
-Rainer Maria Rilke 

You can ask these questions before you shoot, while you're shooting & after when you're in the editing chair. 

20 questions to ask as a photographer to improve your images:

What does this image tell me?

What do I want it to say?

What is the central theme/message of this image?

Are there any competing messages?

Is this image complete?

Is there any tension in the image?

What message does that hand placement translate?

What vibe does this exposure create?

Would it be better if I enhanced insert Lightroom adjustment here?

Are there any distractions in the image?

Does this image evoke any emotions from me?

Do I need a second opinion on this image?

What lessons have I learned for next time?

Are my horizon lines straight?

Are my colours true to life or do I want to take artistic license with them?

Is this a high energy image or a low energy image?

What crop/lens length would tell the story of this image best? Wide to incorporate context or zoomed in to focus on details?

Are there any tiny imperfections that would show up on a large print?

Do I need to take a break from this image and come back to it with a fresh mind?

Do I have a lack of knowledge in technology or a skillset that I need to educate myself in that would improve this image?

Am I recognising that I'm on a journey or am I judging myself harshly for where I'm at along the path?


Develop the questions in you & you will encourage the answers to come forth.

Questions take us into novel places but watch out because people can become squirmy with that. Take it easy on yourself and employ some compassion if you don't know the answers to all of your questions just yet. If you are encountering resistance, it may be because there are some deeper emotional blocks in your subconscious that need to be shifted before the answers come through.



Find me on Instagram @brvcreative where I connect more dots & explore ideas on horses, philosophy, creativity & spirituality.

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