From a photograph to a picture - Pia Parolin

From a photograph to a picture to a series to a project – PART I

The real journey of discovery is not to look for new landscapes, but to have new eyes.

Marcel Proust

Flower Ladies

In the workshop with Nick Turpin last October, held within the Trieste Photo Days, I became aware for the first time of the difference between a photo and a picture. When it comes to the visual representation of an object, the terms image, photo and picture are often treated as synonyms. Other terms exist, like screenshot, graphic, illustration.

I want to focus on the terms more strictly related to photography. It is important to be aware of these terms and their differences. In a creative context, they are by no means synonymous. They even include a rise, an intensification which is congruent with my development as a photographer.


There are clear definitions that can be found on the internet regarding the use of the terminology in the computer world (cited from

- Image - Any visual object that is modified or altered by a computer or an imaginary object that is created using a computer.

- Photo or photograph - Anything taken by a camera, digital camera, or photocopier. -

- Picture - A drawing, painting, or artwork created on a computer. A picture is also used to describe anything created using a camera or scanner.


With this differentiation in mind, it quickly becomes clear what I want to avoid as a creative artist: a visual object? How boring! A photo like taken with a photocopier?

Wait, I'm a photographer and not a photocopier! What I'm aiming for is the third category: "a picture", like a painting. Just like the novel by Oscar Wilde "The Portrait of Dorian Gray". Or like the music composition by Modest Mussorgski “Pictures at an Exhibition”.

My picture should be creative, poetic, beautiful, interesting, appealing, intellectual, thought-provoking, a masterpiece and not a photocopy! At least that could be my aspiration if I go out to take pictures and want to bring something satisfying home with me.

Right from the start, I should align my mindset with the fact that I won't just take snapshots of my surrounding, much in the same mode as if I press the button on the photocopier, what a nightmare!

I rather want to compose my image, my photo, and make a picture. With this inner attitude I will perceive completely different things when I am walking through the streets. I start with a frame, with an idea, with a mood. And I eventually find the subject to represent this idea or mood, and can compose my picture.

The Lady and Mondrian

According to Google Trends, the word "photo" is used more than any of these words on the Internet, followed by image, photograph, and then picture.

The placement of the word “picture” at the end of the list means that this term is less common and therefore more exclusive. And exclusivity is what we want to achieve as artistic photographers: stand out from the masses and do something the others don’t. Discover your photographic voice and make pictures which identify you as a photographer.

Have fun being creative and composing your next picture!

Pia Parolin, Biot 20 January 2020

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