You’re wrong…. that photo sucks!

WHOA! That’s pretty harsh. I mean… who decides what makes a great photograph, anyway? And who nominated you the “good photo president”? Sure, there are some technical aspects – like exposure, contrast, composition and content – that need to be considered. But in the end, what makes a great photo?

Photography is considered by many to be an art form, though it didn’t start out that way. Back in the day, photographers were not considered “artists” and a photograph was merely a way to make a visual record. As photographers started pushing the limits of what could be done, they realized that yes… it was possible to get creative and make beautiful images that were not only visual records, but were also moving. Thought provoking. Intimate.

Being widely accepted as a form of art these days; and thanks to technological advances, gadgets, new techniques and the ability to manipulate our images, there are as many opinions on what makes a great photo as there are great photos. But all the awesome tech, new gear and books can’t tell a photographer how to see the world. That you are born with. Your unique perspective on the things around you that you gain from your unique experiences. And in the end, that’s what a photograph is doing. It’s showing your viewer another way to see things. YOUR way. Whether your way is through muted colors, vintage aging and sunspots or harsh lighting with lots of texture and contrast, there is no RIGHT way to see the world.

Photographers are always opinionated on what makes a great photograph and why. This one is great because it’s in black and white, and great images can only come from black and white. This one is great because it is lit naturally and ONLY great images can be lit naturally. You didn’t follow the rule of thirds, so it’s not good. You DID follow it, so it’s even worse. You have too much contrast, you have a sunflare, the lighting is harsh… blah blah blah blah.

Instead of looking at an image how WE would shoot it and trying to fix the things WE would have done differently, why can’t we appreciate an image how it is? Why can’t we look at something beautiful, appreciate it’s beauty (even if it’s not how we would have seen the subject), and move along? We spend so much time looking through our rose colored “oh, I’m so awesome and my way is the best way” glasses, that we don’t bother to try to see the world in another color.

I pose this challenge:
Visit a photographer’s site who shoots in a style and with a vision far different from your own. Really LOOK at the images. Not just the images, but how they make you feel and what you think the photographer is trying to tell you. Maybe you could write a blog on the experience, or just share it at AAPIG on FB. Regardless of how you choose to reflect back on it, try to look at the world through different eyes. And next time you start to judge a photographers style or the way they “see” things… don’t.

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