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.
  16. cherry30
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    cherry30 New Member

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    I do this too. If i see something interesting, I shoot. If it looks good and if I think it will make my audience want to know more, then I shoot again changing the angles. Maybe if I can be a professional photographer someday, I will be stricter when it comes to what i shoot.
  17. skieur
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    skieur New Member

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    Impact value is made up of two areas: the subject that you have chosen to shoot and the impact you give it through your photographic methods.

    In order to accomplish the second, you need to really know the technical side related to lenses, metering, exposure, depth of field, shutter speed etc., so that any technical problems that show up in your work are minor in nature as in perhaps a little crop, bringing up a little more detail in a dark area etc.

    Assuming that your technical work is at the appropriate level, the next area is composition and that gets into the effect of lighting, texture, colour, lines, curves, paths, horizontals, verticals, juxtaposition framing, and placement of elements within the photo. www.photoinf.com covers some of the basics of composition well.

    A big part of composition is the centre of interest or your subject because that should be the reason for taking the photo in the first place. To put it another way, the viewer's eye should be led into the photo to centre on some element in the picture. If the eye wanders all over the photo at random and the viewer's eye is drawn elsewhere away from the picture then the photographer has failed. The photographer cannot communicate anything to the viewer, if he/she does NOT get his/her visual attention.

    Sometimes style and approach can create impact. There are a lot of cliché flower photos around which makes them visually boring unless there is something unique about a particular shot. One answer: shoot flowers during a heavy rain or while they are being watered. Backlight the flowers and the rain through your camera position or make use of a low ISO to give you a dark background and shoot on a slight diagonal toward the light.

    skieur
  18. JerryPH
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    JerryPH New Member

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    There is also the small point of what is interesting or of value to YOU vs what everyone else will find interesting.

    Who will you shoot for, yourself or others? When I am on one of my times when I am just playing or practicing certain aspects, I can literally take hundreds of pics that mean nothing to the rest of the world, but have intense meaning to me.

    If you are shooting for yourself, it is easier to please yourself and find things that you like. If you are (for example), shooting a wedding and you are now shooting for the B&G and the parents and guests, your chances of finding ONE picture that everyone loves equally well are slim to none.

    You then target the pictures to suit your audience. In which case, YOU may not find the picture of Aunt Nessie picking her nose very important, but her family will find it extremely comical, love it and may even PAY you for it.

    Question comes down to... who are you trying to please? If yourself, other opinions do not matter much. If others, their opinions matter more than yours.
  19. skieur
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    skieur New Member

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    What is interesting or of value to you is somewhat irrelevant, in that the purpose of taking a photo is to show it to others. The challenge of a good photographer is to take something that is interesting to him/her and make it equally interesting to the average viewer using the various tools and techniques of photography at his/her command. Most of the great photographers were great because they were able to succeed in communicating their own interest to others through their photos.

    So it is not so much trying to please anyone, you are trying to express what you find interesting and valuable in a visually effective way and communicate that view or feeling to others who see the photo. Like in any other mode of expression/communication, certain skills and knowledge is required.

    skieur
  20. JerryPH
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    JerryPH New Member

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    Maybe in your world, my friend, certainly not the case in mine. I would say that for me, its about 75% for my eyes only and 20% for family and 5% for friends and public.

    I am sure that if I looked at 100% of your pics, you could find pictures that have great meaning for you but are not even worthy of comment from me. Not because they were good or bad, but simply because they had NO meaning to me.

    Now once (if) I decide to turn pro, I am not so naiive to not know that the tables are turned and that outside critique has value from someone other than myself (the client or the person paying, if you will).

    Ever wonder why I've only posted *1* pic in almost a year for critique? Its certainly not because I do not want critique... its merely that the pictures that I take I can critique myself based on their meaning to me, not to anyone else. Was it not Garbz a few weeks ago that discussed a picture that MEANT something to him... a family member? It was a basically technically crappy picture, yet it held great value to him... not to you, me or likely anyone else on this board. Showing this pic and asking for a critique would be insulting to his perceived value of that picture and a total waste of his time.

    Photography is not strictly about showing your pics to others, its about the pleasure of learning, of relaxation, of the enjoyment. Yes, yes, yes, you can share your pics with others, maybe most do... but it is not an exclusive and 100% ONLY existing point of view that everyone shares... certainly not one that I share.

    There are many reasons to ask or give or NOT ask or be willing to accept a critique.

    The world is not black and white (pun intended... lol) and what is interesting and of value to me... at this point in time... is the ONLY thing that matters to me. Your reason for taking pictures is *obviously* not the same reason I have for squeezing the shutter and I bet if we polled people here why they take pictures, more will side with my reasons (pleasure fun, learning) than will side with yours (to share pics, and be critiqued so you could learn and "improve"). :)

    I think that my attitude stems from the fact that I am not born to this world to impress anyone else other than myself. Whether that impresses others or not... well in the end their opinion of me and my pictures means nothing. I am the one that has to live with my results. If I am not happy... what is the reason I am doing this anyways if not for my own pleasure? None... at least for me.

    How does this branch out to business concepts? Very basically, if what you are doing day-in and day-out is fun and pleasure, its NEVER work. It's like my current business... I never considered it work, and I get up each and every morning laughing inside with pleasure that people are PAYING me to PLAY 10-14 hours a day!
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2008

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