What's interesting to see vs. what's interesting to photograph

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Fox Paw, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. Fox Paw
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    Fox Paw New Member

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    A stray thought. I'm much newer to this than most of you, but I've shot a lot of photographs since last February. One epiphany was slow in coming, i.e., that many things that are intriguing to look at, and even beautiful in some way, do not make interesting subjects for a photograph. Most of you probably realized this long ago.

    I look at all the photographs I've taken. Every time I snapped the shutter, there was something that I found interesting or appealing to look at. The vast majority, however, are utterly boring and forgettable photos.

    What made me think of this was some of the photos posted recently by other relative beginners, particularly young ones. There's nothing really wrong with many of the shots. I can see why someone found the subject interesting to look at. There's just no particular reason why anyone else ought to want to see the result. Having taken scads of the same kind of picture--and having (alas) posted quite a few--I can identify. I'm never quite sure what to say about such shots.

    I also haven't figured out what to do with this insight when taking photos. I'm still taking lots of yawners, even when I'm very calculating about the composition.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  2. skieur
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    skieur New Member

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    Easy, in critique it is called no centre of interest and no visual impact. Photography can be reduced to what to take a photo of, and how to go about taking it. In the beginning stages a lot of newbies have to learn the what to take a photo of, OR more appropriately what NOT to bother taking a photo of.

    I think that you also need to remember that your camera only picks up a small part of the scene that you see with your eyes and dsplays it in 2D rather than 3 dimensions. A lot of television and film directors look at scenes through a rectangular type of viewer because that is the limit of what the camera sees. A good photographer learns to "see" the difference between what his eyes view and what the camera will pick up.
    He/she then knows instinctively whether there is or is NOT a centre of interest and impact value in the shot.

    skieur
  3. abraxas
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    abraxas Active Member

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    Storytelling- If every picture tells a story (communicating), then it may be a matter of developing the skills to tell a story in an interesting manner.

    Which is more interesting?
    --
    A:
    Every year, all at once, beautiful butterflies come to several of the pine trees near Pacific Grove and feed on the nectar in the branches. It seems to get them drunk and many fall on the ground and twitch in their delirium. After about a week of partying, they seem to pair up and fly away to hookup.

    B:
    "Pacific Grove benefits by one of those happy accidents of nature that gladden the heart, excite the imagination, and instruct the young.On a certain day in the shouting springtime great clouds of orangy Monarch butterflies, like twinkling aery fields of flowers, sail high in the air on a majestic pilgrimage across Monterey Bay and land in the outskirts of Pacific Grove in the pine woods. The butterflies know exactly where they are going. In their millions they land on several pine trees—always the same trees. There they suck the thick, resinous juice which oozes from the twigs, and they get cockeyed. The first comers suck their fill and then fall drunken to the ground, where they lie like a golden carpet, waving their inebriate legs in the air and giving off butterfly shouts of celebration, while their places on the twigs are taken by new, thirsty millions. After about aweek of binge the butterflies sober up and fly away, but not inclouds: they face their Monday morning singly or in pairs." - John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday
    --
    If both of these were photographs, I'm pretty sure which I'd spend more time looking at.

    I'd think that it has to do with defining our intent, first to ourselves, then having the skills developed to be able to express that intent to an audience.

    Ask-
    What is it that attracted you to this particular shot?

    Why would anyone else want to see it?

    Learn to find the story, then make it worth telling.

    (Disclaimer- just my thoughts)
  4. Do'Urden's Eyes
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    Do'Urden's Eyes New Member

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    i find if i find the subject/resulting photograph interesting i get positive results from others. and there have been cases where i really liked the photo but others didnt respond the same. i still consider them good photographs even though some people didnt like them.

    So really it comes down to if YOU really like the subject/photo, when shooting personal things of course.
  5. craig
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    craig New Member

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    Excellent question and I am glad you asked it. The above posts are right on the money in explaining one of the great mysteries in photography.

    The key is to make images that scream your personal style and emotion. Consider that 100's of photographers shoot the mountains at sunset or whatever. Your job is to make it your own by including a tree branch or something that is personal to you. I am sure that I am not making myself clear. It is actually a tough deal to talk about without some visual examples.

    Love & Bass
  6. reg
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    reg New Member

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    I love your profoundity.
  7. craig
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    craig New Member

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    Thank you! That means a lot to me!!!!!

    )'(
  8. DRoberts
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    DRoberts New Member

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    I think it completely depends on why you are taking a specific photo. Are you taking it as a reminder something that sparks a personal emotion...or are you taking it of a subject for others. A poorly lit, slightly out of focus snapshot of Grandpa fishing, may be more important than a well constructed setting for a magazine cover.
    In short, the importance of a picture that I take is measured by me. Just as the importance of a picture you take is measured by you. What anyone else thinks is irrelevant.
  9. Jedo_03
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    Jedo_03 New Member

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    Trouble is that some bugger will look at the image and quip that the tree branch spoils the view...
    As you say - down to personal taste...
    Another view/squint - if you are just wandering around taking pics for the sake of taking them, then yeah - the product is ...yawn... But holiday pics are different from this - visual memories/keepsakes... and other people can be interested because it shows them where you went and what you did... And family pics are history/heirlooms/treasured things... And shooting portraits/weddings/events/etc for money is different...
    So I suppose "the motive behind the pic" is also a factor...
    BTW - I'm a member of a local photo club. we meet once a fortnight. we have a laptop and a projector and members bring in their pics on sticks and we view them on the white wall and have a group critique...
    You would NOT believe the number of pics of old leather boots, vases with flowers, vases without flowers, macros of flaking paint... Last week, one member brought in a study of the combs on the heads of his chickens...
    So if you think your OWN pics are boring...
    As the OP said - there wasn't much 'wrong' with the pics - but why the hell did we *have to sit there and look at them..?
    LOL - each to his own...
    Jedo

    ETA - I was *fascinated to learn that no two chicken combs are alike... like fingerprints..
  10. Photonic Harmony
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    Photonic Harmony New Member

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    DRoberts and I are of the same line of thinking. I take pictures because I love taking pictures. When I'm out and about I shoot everything I feel I should, regardless of who will be viewing them.

    I love the fact that I don't understand - entirely - why I take a particular picture at the point at which I take it. In the same way that an artist doesn't view the imperfections in his paintings as mistakes.
  11. rubbertree
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    rubbertree New Member

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    Nevertheless, it's a hard lesson to learn.
  12. netfiltering
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    netfiltering New Member

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    This is a great discussion, and very helpful for beginners like me. I never thought of it this way, I've simply been taking pictures of what I find interesting, and then seeing how it turns out. But it's true, the camera can't capture what the eyes can, it's like an act of translation, though visually.

    But, I have a question, how would you define impact value, because that can be different to different people?
  13. Joves
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    Joves New Member

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    Ah! I still shoot what catches my eye but, thanx to digital I can review it first. If it looks blah then I try to make it interesting by changing angles and settings. But sometimes it doesnt help but, then again sometimes it does.
  14. icassell
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    icassell New Member

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    Interesting discussion. I take loads of photographs for myself that I have no intention of sharing -- images to remind myself of something but the images themselves may have little or no artistic value. I consider these snapshots. Other photographs I take with the hope that, when I share them, they will interest others. I don't make apologies for the first kind. I apologize for the second kind when they don't work. :)
  15. Do'Urden's Eyes
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    Do'Urden's Eyes New Member

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    one personal revolution i think im starting to go through right now is taking pictures that i personally enjoy. i mean yeah i do have the viewers in mind but i find that my idea of a 'typical' picture is starting to turn a bit grey(vague). when i frame a shot now i dont seem to be comparing it as much to similar pictures ive seen, but rather just TAKING the picture the way i want to take it.

    I think this is a really big step in my artistic career and something that ive been waiting on for a while.

    the advice i always read and never REALLY took to heart until recently is that it really is ALL ABOUT PRACTICE. the more you do it the better you get at it. youre not going to get anywhere just reading about equipment and other peoples' photographic adventures. you do actually learn ALOT from all of this but nothing as valuable as the knowledge/experience you get from actually doing it.

    hope that helps a bit.

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