Why Photography and Psychology?

I am fascinated by the parallels we can draw between our human minds and the capabilities of modern digital cameras, and in particular the relationships (at both the structural and processing levels) between visual perception and our interpretation of the world - with the inevitable consequences this has for our emotional reactions. It is perception that drives our feelings and emotions.

Perceptual Emotion is primarily a vehicle to explore the inter-relationships between photography and psychology,but within this framework I include links to photographic resources and to some of my favourite photographers and artists. I also include photography advice, humour, poetry, and articles based on my photographic experiences and observations. Naturally, my own images and photos make up a large part of Perceptual Emotion.

Perception and Emotion

Perception is the interactive and constructive process by which we know our world. It involves our sensory organs, their neural projections into our brain, and complex interconnections within and between various cortical and subcortical areas.

Perception is not passive. We create reality, and how the raw data is processed is influenced by our previous experiences, how we are feeling at the time (emotionally and physically - a jar of sweets looks bigger when we are hungry) and our expectations - our view of the future.

Emotions are important sources of information - they motivate us to behave in (evolutionarily) adaptive ways. The areas of the brain involved in the generation and control of emotions are intimately linked to perceptual processes and to our higher cortical structures. There is an uneasy tension between our deep-seated gut feelings and immediate reactions to situations and our rational thinking processes. One of our key developmental tasks is to tame our more primitive responses in order to live in society.

Blue triangular view of sky with acrostic about perception

Photography's major challenge is to capture the richness of the world in two dimensions using only visual data - i.e. light. It is through the lens that the photographer attempts to capture and interpret the world, with post-processing being analogous to the cognitive elements of perception noted above. A good photograph will elicit an emotional response, such as joy, sadness, surprise or anger.

I hope you enjoy exploring my photographs and other bits and pieces on this site. Please do not hesitate to contact me by email with comments or requests to use any of my images.

Thank you.


Personal Information

Derek on Parliament Hill
Photo by Ilse Lee
I would describe myself as an "aspiring photographer", with no claims or pretensions to being anything other than a very keen amateur. My professional life is in the field of applied psychology, so my choice of the themes I want to develop as outlined above should start to make sense now.

I live in Kettering, a small market town in Northamptonshire, UK.

Aside from photography, I enjoy travel, nature and creative writing.