Chris Fedderson — MacroFine Musings
[This post is an elaboration on the fifth, and last, point I made in my post of November 10, 2015
Five ways to raise your photo IQ (Interest Quotient)]
“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
— Ansel Adams
Often at art shows, I get into conversations with patrons about what it is that I see in an image, what I visualize, what makes a “good” photograph, how does one know when a shot will be a good one… etc. There is no easy answer, only you can answer that, and only for you. If there were an easy answer, every car company would have a Mustang and no car company would ever have an Edsel.
While you are addressing this question of good-ness, of course you need to heed all the techy-stuff: Is it focused? Is it well-composed? Is it printed well, or show on the monitor well? Is the color correct? Etc. After these things are satisfied, good-ness lies entirely in the eye of the beholder — be that you or your viewer. And obviously, never will we all agree about this for any particular image.
In determining good-ness, I feel a good place to start is to ask whether this image has a sufficient “hook”. By “hook” I don’t mean a gimmick or a superficial visual element about which, after the first look, you might say, “Seen that. Done that. Move on, now”. But rather, a hook is the reason the image exists. It is the soul of the image. The emotion, feeling, or message of the image. It is the essence of the image, which will be re-seen, re-lived, and re-felt anew, with each viewing.
A hook can be just about anything. It could be the subject (Aunt Millie with her new niece); it can be an element within the image (unusual lighting or juxtaposition); it might be the more mysterious feeling or emotion it elicits. You decide what the hook is, but remember that for each viewer, the hook may be different.
OK, here’s another Ansel Adams quotation: “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer”. After all, we each bring our own set of life experiences and memories to the viewing and those ~different~ elements are what determine our individual take-away.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. Think about the various hooks in your images. How might they each, or the general concept directing them, be strengthened? Do they inspire concepts for other hooks? How might you capture this hook-concept; what imagery might facilitate that?
Comment about your unique hooks — we’ll talk about them and compare notes.
I am a Virginia-based photographer and gather my images while hiking in parks and natural areas here at home and in the locations I travel to. I also love to visit arboretums and botanic gardens to find unusual and exotic subjects.