You and I both know when we like a photo. But do we know why?
I think I’m getting better at figuring out my reasons but I’m guessing there are a sea of subliminal forces affecting my subjective choices. One aspect recently caught my attention.
If a photo is technically more difficult to make, am I inclined to like it more? I can be a bit pompous when these conversations are swirling around in my head so I immediately dismissed it with a little attitude. Sheesh – settle down.
My mind wandered way back to my Royal Conservatory Piano lessons. Now I don’t know if it was real or imagined, but one of the biases I detected was that making the music more difficult to play automatically made it better. That was a tough sell to a 10-year old who wasn’t a fan of that traditional style of music anyway. Needless to say, that line of reasoning didn’t take then and still doesn’t do much for me now!
I like to think I’m a pragmatic sort so it only makes sense to me that beauty or enjoyment should be based on the response of the viewer to the final product, not on the degree of difficulty to produce it. Celebrating technical excellence in these areas seems like intentionally missing the point.
I like music that sounds good to me and photos that draw me in. (That last sentence was pretty deep so you may want to reread it!) I don’t get accused of being an elitist too often.
Of course, sometimes arriving at the final photo may be easy or at other times extremely challenging. I can acknowledge and respect the hard work that goes into a final result but that alone doesn’t make it better. In fact, sometimes the effort might be entirely misplaced. I know of what I speak! Other times only a lot of hard work makes the final beauty possible.
I recall a photographer dismissing a particular photo because the effect someone else had used was easily applied using PhotoShop. I remember wondering why on earth should I care? Shouldn’t the focus be on the beauty and inspiration of the final photo?
So why should anyone care? I think that too much admiration for the technical aspects of photography, or any other art, can be a distraction from the original purpose. And it might be the first step back to the dreaded piano lessons!
Now you may be entirely sorry that I let you in on this conversation with myself. In the off chance you made it to the end, I’d be curious to hear what you think.