I can always count on my partner to give honest feedback about my photographs. She is an art historian with a very solid understanding of what makes a successful image and what doesn’t. We have had a lot of conversations about composition. Sometimes if I am sorting through my own photographs from the day (I have been going out every chance I get lately to get in some “practice”), she’ll look over and offer comments.
We’ve narrowed her system down to “strong” and “BORING!” And I take no offense whatsoever when she says “BORING!” It’s actually somewhat of a relief to have that immediate response because I was usually already leaning that way myself.
Of course I have my own ideas about my work and don’t always agree with her, but it’s food for good conversation, when we disagree, because I learn a lot from these discussions.
This is where the images I’m attaching for today come in. These provoked an immediate “BOOOORING!” from her, and I was a bit taken aback. I like this first image.
She says it’s flat and uninteresting. I reply: “But look, I caught those drops just before they fell!” “So,” she replied. “There are lots of photographs like that. There is nothing unique about this. Your feelings in the moment as you captured it don’t transfer to the image. You can’t think that way. The image stands alone.” “But for me there is a certain tension here, amidst a calmness. I like it.” “You emotions are not infused into the image. Your liking it doesn’t make it good. It’s a weak photograph.” And the conversation continued. To no avail, I defended the color, the composition, the interest for nature-lovers…. There was no convincing her. The photograph remains “boring.”
While none of the images here are “successful” from her point of view, it’s the third one that she considers the strongest.
I am eager to hear what others think about these, and believe me, I am completely open to all opinions here. I want to understand what makes an image work and what doesn’t. What would make these images stronger? How would you have approached this “shot.” I’ll be grateful for your input!
Update: I just saw a great a shot over on Steve’s site: http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/a-world-in-a-drop-of-resin/ I think that I’m going to figure a lot out by seeing strong examples of what actually does work.
Update #2: Fellow-blogger and photographer Pablo (of the fantastic blog pablobuitrago365.wordpress.com) raised a question in his comment about what the first image would look like in B & W, so I decided to check it out. Here it is:
I think that this version takes care of some of the “busyness” that a few people mentioned was problematic in the color version, but it also exposes other areas of weakness. Steve mentions in the comments that the subject matter and the focal point of the image are not the same, which of course means the composition doesn’t work, and this is really clarified for me when I see it in the B & W. I also can see, now that I’m looking at it in B & W that the raindrop I was most intent on capturing (the one in the front) is not as in focus as I thought. Many thanks to Pablo for his question, because has helped see the image in an entirely new way!