In a photography contest that I want to take part in, the theme is 'Voices' . What does this mean? How do I portray this? There is nothing given apart from the topic.

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    I suppose that a big part of the competition is just how people decide to interpret the theme. That's usually an exciting element of the entries. That said, this question isn't really about photography and more about art interpretation and the specific rules of a specific contest. – JPhi1618 Dec 1 '17 at 20:21
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    This question is probably off topic as too vague here, as the interpretation is a part of the fun and completely open to discussion. Personally, in our charged political climate in the US, I would attempt to document the LACK of voices in a way that draws attention to an unknown/often ignored plight. – OnBreak. Dec 1 '17 at 20:33
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    I think the idea behind this is a good question, but as written it's like you're just asking for help with your homework. Could it be edited to a more generic question like where to start if set a challenge like this. I've answered with that more generic thought in mind. – laurencemadill Dec 1 '17 at 23:48
  • What photos have you tried? – user50888 Dec 2 '17 at 3:50
  • I'd like to keep this open because of the good answers. Anyone have idea for tags? event-photography sure isn't right.... – mattdm Dec 2 '17 at 20:21

If you are set a theme or topic for photography, it's often difficult to know where to begin, especially if it's a single word.

Start with the first thing that comes into your mind when you were first set that task, or when you first read about that competition. In your example, 'voices', what came to mind first? Was it an image or a scene? Can you recreate that? If you don't know what the word means, look it up in a dictionary. As you read the definition, what comes to your mind at that point?

The whole point of single-word topics like these are because the people that set the task are looking for unique interpretations. 'Voices' could be a choir, it could be political voices, as mentioned in one of the comments, it could be a record player, but these are just the most simple interpretations. What about voices from the point of view of mental health and mental care? What about the record shop HMV in Britain which stands for "His Master's Voice" and is represented by a dog at a gramophone?

Think about the word and where you've heard it said and the context you've heard it in. Think about it in the context that you would use it. Think about the emotion that comes to mind when you hear that word and try to reflect that emotion in a photo that you think portrays that word.

As a photographer and artist you have the freedom to interpret a challenge or a set word as you wish, so be creative. The judges may be looking as much for a creative interpretation in a response as they are for technical skill.


I ask a lot of questions here and I don't explicitly answer your question as it stands at time of writing, but I'm trying to approach it from a more generic point of view, more in the sense of 'if given a topic, how do you go about portraying that topic?', which is probably a better fit for the site.


My answer would be that it is not for anyone else to answer this question for you, Suggestions for you to think about, Perhaps.

The theme is for The individual photographer (you) to interpret and to successfully communicate to the viewer in a visual medium by way of execution of composition, subject matter, exposure etc.

The ability of the photographer (you) to interpret and communicate the theme is one the reasons to have a theme in the first place.

I would argue that the ability to communicate the theme is of equal importance to the technical execution of producing a good photograph and is the reason to have a theme in the first place.

In theory the viewer should be able to look at your photo and recognize the theme ( or what you are trying to say ) even if they do not know what the theme of the contest is, and if they do know the theme then they should certainly recognize the theme in your photo and FEEL that you have expressed it.

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