Quality -vs- Consistancy


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Obviously both is best. duh.
But, one of the struggles of a photographer besides getting a quality picture, is developing consistent results.
So, just for the sake of argument, I propose the following inquiry...
Does, at some point, getting consistently "good" results become a better scenario than getting "great" photos, but inconsistently?
Does the level of higher quality become a factor? Does the frequency of the "great" photos become a factor?
Does the purpose of the photos make any difference? (personal -vs- commercial/clients)
If so, how much better and how frequent must the "great" pictures be, to overcome the advantages of producing consistent, but only "good" photos?
I don't think, (other than with the exception of the odd 'fluke' or lucky shot) you can have one without the other. Are they not tied to one-another?
I don't think, (other than with the exception of the odd 'fluke' or lucky shot) you can have one without the other. Are they not tied to one-another?

perhaps it was more of a hypothetical question then.
I heard a comment recently that went something like "they consistently take good pictures, but not GREAT pictures" and I thought, would it be better to have consistent good pictures, or have kind of a random processing or photography style that sometimes produces really great photos, but nothing on a consistent basis.

maybe im just tired. I warned you about my possible rambling nonsense today! :lol:
I don't think, (other than with the exception of the odd 'fluke' or lucky shot) you can have one without the other. Are they not tied to one-another?
I agree with Tirediron...........
I would rather get to the level of consistently taking Good pictures, as it is easier to get to the mostly Great ... which leads to consistently Great.
Getting random Great shots with the rest garbage would be an indicator of lack of understanding ?? (not sure if I said that right).
The great sport of baseball might have some parallels we could draw upon...

There are stats like slugging percentage, on-base percentage, the simple batting average...number of home runs per season, RBI, and so on.

Your query seems to be four questions. That's a lotta' questions.

After a time, a shooter ought to EXPECT consistently "good" results. I think that just comes with experience and practice and time behind the wheel. Errr, behind the eyepiece. Newb/novice/intermediate/journeyman/expert/guru. Somewhere at the tail end of the intermediate stage, consistent "good" results ought to be expected, especially today.

Great photos? Not sure how we define "great". There must be degrees of greatness. Greatness is often in the eye of the beholder. Or the shooter. Or the buyer/client. In some ways, any photo that any person really likes a lot is a great photo. Sometimes, great photos are the result of lucky accidents, and are almost entirely SUBJECT-driven; a volcanic eruption, a spectacular stock car crash, an ultra-rare scene of reclusive animal behavior; a photo of the first man walking on the Moon;the Hindenburg bursting into flames; an elegant 1950's fashion model next to two elephants, the shot of Robert Kennedy laying on the ground, grainy, under-exposed, and push-processed--I have seen all these kinds of "great photos". Some of them were staged; some came quite easily; some came to the guy who just happened to be there, with a camera. I dunno--there is no real formula for "greatness".
i was trying to be all deep and thinky like..
gettin all philosophical and stuff...

i should probably just stick to calculating vent settings and drug dosages. :er:
+1 with tiredon in a way....IMO flat out "inconsistency" simply doesn't exist in terms of a photographer's results. rather you have consistency of some quality level or another, because someone who gets mostly low quality shots will occasionally get a good one on a fluke, and someone who gets mostly high quality shots will occasionally get a low quality ones too...with a myriad of ranges in between...the photographer's skill/knowledge level is best exhibited in whatever quality they are producing consistently, and as skill and knowledge and practice progress, the quality of consistent work that a photographer produces will improve...

then you have a wide range of qualifiers of what makes a great vs good vs bad photo such as technical quality, compositional, artistic, timing, lighting, etc....as well as how an image is used which will determine the quality of the photo (for example a crime scene photographer might be spot on perfect in technical quality very consistently in order to document facts, but I doubt they would be regarded very highly from an artistic quality standpoint, but that is not the image purpose.)...not to mention that some aspects of 'image quality' will vary depending on who you ask since in terms of an art form, photography quality will vary from person to person, as well as societal fads. (ex, some images deemed 'high quality' in the 80's may not be considered quite so 'high quality' today as tastes change) and of course there are also images that transcend fads and tastes, but then you have to look at whether the 'fad' is actually the determining factor on the image's overall quality or not...so while some things are easy to examine like technical aspects (exposure, focus, etc), others aren't so simple in how they are qualified.

my advice I would take myself and offer to anyone else with that question would be that whatever results we are able to consistently produce, that is what we should focus on, be working on, and learning the most from, and not worrying about the random good or bad shots...if that makes any sense...
It seems like the comment about someone producing consistently good photos but not great ones might just mean that someone takes good photos, and can do that most of the time - and that's their optimal level of skill. Having been a teacher I think that creating something great inconsistently indicates skills are developing, and that it's a process - what someone might work toward would be to continue to develop skills to create more and more of what could be considered great, and I imagine it would be something to work toward, to become more consistent with producing a lot of exceptional photos.
Consistency has to come before quality, unless hit and miss, you never know when it's going to happen, quality is acceptable.
“I just take pictures and hope something comes out of it.” Elliott Erwitt

That is how it is with most street photogs. We shoot a lot or shoot a little and do the best we can at getting a keeper.

The OP question assumes there is some sort of formula we work by. Like we have to get so many good shots in ratio to how many we shoot overall. I usually trash 90% to 98% of what I shoot. Out of the remaining, I may or may not get a portfolio keeper. Sometimes weeks or months can go by with no keepers. But a keeper for me is a shot that is museum worthy.

"If I knew how to take a good photograph, I'd do it every time." Robert Doisneau

With street and documentary photography we can get by with photos that would be terrible mistakes for the studio photog. Out of focus, poor comp, blurred, bad exposure...they all get by with the documentary photog. If we come home with 75% to 85% of what we were after, it can still be a success with street work.

With my own work, technical expertise comes in second to content. I don't pick this way of shooting, it is just a combo of my own skill set and goes with the territory. I would love perfect technical and fantastic subject matter, but it is not practical with street work. If I was a better tech person, I could improve some with the tech end. In any case, I would not trade perfect tech for boring photos...nothing could be worse for me.
As always it depends on what you're doing. If you're on the very conventional end of the photo spectrum, doing straight portraits, landscapes, etc., then once you develop technical skill the results should be pretty consistent. There may be some images that stand out more than others but there should be few if any that are really unacceptable. This is what you want if you are doing this sort of photography professionally (not good to have a great artistic shot of one family member at an event and a lousy one of someone else). At the other end of the spectrum, the more experimental stuff, even with a good degree of technical skill one can expect inconsistent results because one is trying something new that may not always work. In that case I would prefer relatively few images that really work well to a consistent set that is just OK.
I think I understand. Just last night I was thinking about this. Out of every shoot, I usually have 2-3 GREAT photos, the rest are okay. I'm consistent in this way and in the way I edit the photos. But I'm not consistently pulling out those photos that make you gasp as soon as you see them.
I'm inconsistent in my editing results. Fairly consistent with decent shots (IMO), but occasionally get one that works out perfectly and I think is really great. How much of our quality is better than we think it is because we are harder on ourselves than we should be?
I don't think, (other than with the exception of the odd 'fluke' or lucky shot) you can have one without the other. Are they not tied to one-another?

I disagree with this almost completely ;)

Now, I am a dilettante, always have been. I've been mashing shutter buttons with intent for, uh, I dunno. 25 years or something. I've made some pretty good pictures. There's always some degree of serendipity in making a good picture, for me. These days I control a lot more, and am much more able to consistently shoot a set of 10 or 20 pictures of something that will contain at least 1 that's pretty much what I was looking for. The serendipity is controlled and managed to a degree (which doesn't even make literal sense, but bear with me).

I envision a professional photographer as someone who's able to bring enough control of the situation, and enough intuition to that which cannot be controlled, to consistently get lucky. At which point, yeah, it's not strictly speaking getting lucky any more.

Statistically speaking, I think that if you can consistently produce good pictures, you ought to get a higher rate of great ones. I don't see any reason that more control, more "luck management" should somehow squeeze the juice out of your photography and make the great ones go away. I think of the great ones as pictures where you got extra lucky, so if you're doing a better job bringing your luck with you, you oughta get more great ones.

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