What is Objective Photography?

Have you ever wondered what makes a photograph objective or subjective? As photography continues to play an integral role in shaping our perception of the world around us, it’s important to understand the nuances of different photographic approaches.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of objective photography – what it is, why it matters, and how it differs from subjective photography. You’ll learn about the techniques used to capture objective photographs, the challenges faced by objective photographers, and the role of ethics in this field.

Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or simply interested in the impact of visual media, this article will provide you with valuable insights into the world of objective photography. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how objective photography can be used to inform and shape our understanding of the world around us.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of objective photography and discover what makes this approach to photography so unique and valuable.

What is Objective Photography?

An objective photograph is an image that is unbiased and free from personal interpretation or opinion.

Objective photography often requires a deep understanding of the technical aspects of photography such as proper exposure, composition, and how to capture people and events ethically.

If you read my article on Punctum, you may be a bit confused and think there is no such thing as an objective photograph. In case you didn’t read that article, Punctum refers to the emotional response someone has to an image.

For example, if there is an image of a party, one viewer may have an emotional response to a particular partygoer’s facial expression while another viewer may have an emotional response to a drink they see in the photo.

people at a party
example image of party, everyone will draw an emotional response from something different

Objectivity in a photo, however, refers to creating an unbiased image and being neutral on a scene, especially if it is an ethically or politically charged event.

Objective photography often plays an important role in journalism and documentary photography.

Examples of Objective Photographs

Now that we know the definition of an objective photograph, let’s take a look at some example scenarios where capturing objective photography would be important:

News Events

If you are in charge of photographing a news event, it is imperative that you try to stay as neutral and objective as possible.

Certain situations such as protests, natural disasters, or political rallies are important times to capture images that are accurate and unbiased in their portrayal of events.

people at a political rally
political event

Crime Scenes

Another scenario where it is important to capture an objective photograph is during a crime scene. If you are in the position to photograph a crime scene, it is crucial that you document the evidence at the scene of the crime in a way that preserves the integrity of the evidence and ensures it can be used objectively in a court of law.

Scientific Research

If you are capturing scientific research, it is also important that you remain objective with your photographs so you can document the experiments, specimens, and observations in a way that accurately represents the data set.

Architectural Photography

In architectural photography, if you are photographing architecture professionally, then it is important that you get the scale of the building and its surroundings objectively and don’t use any special wide-angle or fisheye lenses or angles to make the buildings appear bigger or smaller than they really are.

If you do this, it could affect all the other parties involved in the architecture project.

architecture photo example of building
architecture photo example of building

Product Photography

Another scenario you will want to capture objective photographs is product photography. If you are hired by a company or brand to take their product photos, then it’s important you use objective techniques and represent the product accurately in terms of size, scale, color, details, and texture.

If you don’t, then you could be duping the company or brand’s target audience without even knowing it which could affect the brand in the long run.

Difference Between Subjective and Objective Photography

Let’s take a look at the opposite of objective photography — subjective photography.

Subjective photography is characterized by approaching an image with a personal, or interpretive approach that could use creative or artistic elements to bend the scene toward a particular viewpoint.

For example, using some of the scenarios above, taking a subjective photograph could consist of a photographer capturing a political event and only taking photos that highlight a particular party in a good light while not taking other photos of the other party or capturing them in a bad light.

Subjective photography could often lend itself to being a more visually striking or emotionally evocative image that could get more attention and “likes” on social media, but it may not always accurately represent the reality of the subject or event.

Objective photography, on the other hand, prioritizes accuracy and honesty — a powerful tool for the spread of accurate information and education amongst its viewers. This leads us to our next section where we discuss the importance of objective photography in-depth.

Importance of Objective Photography

The importance of objective photography can be viewed through the role it plays in our world. Objective photography can shape our understanding of the world we live in.

By presenting images that are free from personal interpretation or bias, we allow the viewers to form their own opinions and draw their own conclusions based on the evidence presented.

As mentioned earlier, this type of photography and being objective in every photograph is not needed in every type of photography and should only be seriously considered in the scenarios listed earlier along with journalism and documentary styles of photography.

We live in a world where information spreads very quickly and visual media has a powerful impact on shaping perceptions and beliefs. Objective photography needs to be used to inform and educate viewers about important issues and events.

Objective photographers are the gatekeepers of truth and they have an important job of ensuring the stories they tell through their images are visually compelling while also truthful and authentic at the same time.

How to Capture Objective Photography

Capturing objecting photography involves taking photos of the scene or subject in front of you in an accurate representation.

Let’s touch on some tips that you can follow to ensure you are capturing an objective photograph.

1. Understand Your Camera

The first tip to capture objective photography is to have a good understanding of your camera. This means you know how to shoot in manual mode and also have a good understanding of the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO).

It’s important to understand your camera and how it operates because this will allow you to accurately capture an image that represents your subject or scene.

2. Avoid Filters and Heavy Post-Processing

We live in a world of filters.

In order to take an objective photograph, it’s important you refrain from adding lots of filters and doing heavy post-production work such as removing objects from scenes or changing colors.

Filters and heavy post-processing can add unintended bias to your photos by changing the colors, contrast, and other elements of the image.

It’s fine to do basic exposure edits but avoid edits such as object removal, cropping important parts of the scene, and heavy color tweaks.

3. Pay Attention to Composition

The third tip to capture objective photographs is to pay attention to the composition you use in your image.

The use of composition techniques can play a big role in how objective or subjective an image turns out.

You’ll want to avoid using extreme angles or cropping the photo in a way that could potentially distort the subject or scene.

Although it’s almost impossible to use any form of compositional technique, you’ll want to stick to basic ones such as the rule of thirds and try to keep the image as balanced and objective as possible.

This should be an objective photograph after all, not a fine art image.

How to Avoid Bias in Objective Photography

As mentioned, objective photography should be free of any biases — but we’re all born with biases so how can a photographer set out to capture an unbiased image?

Although we all have implicit biases, to avoid as much bias in our photos, it’s important that we approach the process and scene with an open and impartial mindset.

For example, if you are photographing a political event and you tend to lean one way, try not to have biased images when photographing your favored party.

It’s about setting aside any personal opinions or beliefs you may have about the subject or event and focusing solely on capturing what’s in front of you in an accurate light.

Implementing the tips we mentioned in the previous section can also help you to avoid any unwanted biases in your images.

The Role of Ethics in Objective Photography

I wanted to include a section on ethics because capturing objective photography that is free from biases is also important for the subject.

We as photographers have the power to shape public perception and influence attitudes especially if our images will be viewed by the lot.

We see this every day with paparazzi capturing unwanted images of celebrities or people of power and that one image negatively influencing their career.

Ethics helps to ensure that we approach our work in a responsible and respectful manner, avoiding any exploitation of the subject or scene being photographed.

This may involve obtaining consent from a subject, respecting someone’s privacy or cultural sensitivities, and avoiding any distortion of the subject or scene.

Every objective photo needs to uphold the dignity and rights of the subjects and events that are being captured.

Challenges Faced in Objective Photography

We’ve covered how to capture objective photography and its importance, but I want to emphasize that there are challenges faced in objective photography.

It’s not about being perfect all the time and only capturing objective photographs, it’s about the effort and the awareness of what you are capturing at a specific time and place.

I wanted to highlight that it can be difficult to capture a purely objective photograph — we are humans after all.

But if we approach every scene with skill, sensitivity, and a commitment to ethical practices, then we are headed in the right direction.

The Future of Objective Photography

Just like any advancing field, the future of object photography is most likely to be shaped by technological advancements and changing cultural attitudes.

If you’re reading this on your mobile device, then you have to remember that what you are reading this on is becoming just as powerful as a normal DSLR camera.

This means everyone is walking around with a camera capable of capturing high-quality images 24/7.

With this societal change and technological advancement, there has never been a greater potential for objective photography to be used as a tool, and as a weapon for social or political justice.

Ultimately, I believe the future of objective photography will largely depend on the choices and actions of the photographers themselves, our best bet is to ensure we spread awareness and educate photographers on the power they have.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a subjective or objective photo better?

It depends on the photographer’s intention and the context in which the photo is presented. Both types of photos can be effective in conveying a message or evoking an emotional response from the viewer.

When is having a subjective photo better than an objective one?

Subjective photos can be better than objective ones when the photographer wants to express their personal perspective, emotions, or interpretation of the subject matter.

Additional Resources

Be sure to also read these articles related to photography glossary terms: