Photography and Mood – I

Rage. Black-and-white image by Alina Oswald.


In the early days of the AIDS pandemic, it was often rage that motivated many individuals to become activists, to take it to the streets and fight for their lives and for their friends’ lives. It was rage that inspired many of the activist artists to create powerful work that withstood the test of time.

Rage is also something that defines our present time, at least for some of us. And sometimes rage becomes a too familiar feeling, touching us on a more personal level.

Do we ask for it? No! But sometimes rage is necessary to fuel the fight, whatever that fight might be.

So, how do we express rage in photography? We can start by observing Mother Nature, for example:

Rage. Photo by Alina Oswald. (while in Hawaii, I spent an afternoon on a secluded beach, watching Mother Nature in action, waves crashing against this rock that looked, to me, as a giant reptile with its mouth wide open)

Threat – or feeling threatened

In the image posted below, two trucks are parked on a Hawaiian beach, awaiting the incoming storm.

Eyes of the Storm. Photo by Alina Oswald.
In the Eye(s) of the Storm. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Fury, as in nature’s fury. I guess, it could also be interpreted as nature’s fury, looking at it from Mother Nature’s perspective, or nature’s threat, looking at it from our own perspective:

Award-winning photograph, an aerial image of Kilauea volcano, Big Island of Hawaii. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Award-winning photograph, an aerial image of Kilauea volcano, Big Island of Hawaii. Photo by Alina Oswald.

And another image of Mother Nature’s fury, this time during a bomb cyclone in Jersey City:

Mother Nature’s fury in the city. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Mother nature is not the only one to help us express mood in photography. Here are a few other examples:


Katyn Soldier memorial in Jersey City. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Katyn Soldier memorial and 9/11 Tribute Lights. Photo by Alina Oswald.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s what ‘they say.” We can give up or we can can fight back, just like the AIDS activists of the eighties and nineties, the ACT UP activists did. “Fight back, fight AIDS.” And so today, we can follow their example and use that rage and fury to fight back.

“Fight Back!” Photographing HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ activists.

How we choose to visually express mood depends on our personal stories and experiences. And while there are many way of expressing feelings such as rage, fury, betrayal, and the decision to fight back, this post mentions only a few ideas, barely scratching the surface…for now.

What subjects do you choose in order to capture mood in your images? How much does the mood captured in your image define collective feelings (mood) vs individual feelings? Just wondering…. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you don’t mind sharing.

As always, thank you for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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