IMAGE TALK with Noella Ballenger: What makes that photo work…

If a picture is worth more than a thousand words, then the symbol within that image is even more important. In this month’s Image Talk the symbols within this image show how man has and continues to revolutionize our common communication links with one another. But let’s let Rajiul tell the story behind the image he shares with us.

Digitalized Bangladeshby Rajiul Huda Dipto

Black and white image of hands working a cell phone titled Digitalized Bangladesh by Rajiul Huda Dipto.

Subject: Hands working cell phone

Rajiul’s Story Behind the Image:

Bangladesh is a developing country and every day it is moving towards improving its IT sector. The current Government is running a project named “Digital Bangladesh” and it is being said that this project will one day be an example in world technologically. Now-a-day technology has arrived in every part of Bangladesh. Even a literate man from a small village has the ability to use a mobile phone.

While capturing this picture, the “Digitalization” word was on my mind. This particular picture portrays the hands of a literate man, but it is also now true that the hands of farmer can access to present and future technology.

I believe black and white is like a weapon in photography. It makes everything more realistic and tactile.


1. Symbol
2. Illuminating light

3. Leading lines – camera angle
4. Texture contrast – hands, metal, glass

5. Action – position of fingers
6. Negative space

7. Black and white

Noella’s Comments

In analyzing any photo we need to first identify the subject. Since the device dominates the image space, it’s not difficult to pinpoint the subject. However there is more. Though a cell phone is commonly used throughout the world, the story behind the image provides us with background information. Thus the phone becomes a symbol of progress in the blossoming country of Bangladesh.

In addition, the strong illuminating light and camera angle draws the eye to the surrounding area. Because of the angle that was used to make the photo the leading lines from both the edges of the device and the narrowing angle of view (perspective), along with the bright light pulls your eye right back to another very strong part of this image – the hands.

The hands are important because they act as a barrier to you escaping the image and as a secondary center of attention. The illuming light creates high contrast of the highlights and shadows, which in turn emphasizes the texture in both the fine lines and skin tones of the hands. Notice also the strong textural contrast between the hard metal, glass surface and the soft details of the hands.

The position of the fingers is also important because it implies action. There is something happening here. It is not just static but active. Action is important because technology is constantly moving forward and that action shows us that dynamic creation is on the move. Again, this is another symbol that makes this image tell the story.

Now take a look at the negative space in the dark areas. Negative space is the area around the object. It is important because it helps define and complete the subject area. Negative space is the frame that consolidates all of these strong symbols.

And, last is the choice of using black and white in the presentation. As Rajiul puts it so well, ”… black and white is like a weapon in photography. It makes everything more realistic and tactile.”

Rajiul, this is a wonderful image. You carried out your goal of illustrating a concept that incorporates a number of important symbols of progress in your nation and in the world. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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