Recently, I had the chance to be a special guest on one of Peter DeMarco’s webinars. This was a great experience and one that really got me thinking about how we all see images differently.
The first image that we worked on was taken by my friend Richard Bates and it is a really good one. I was also with him when he too the image. Suffice to say that I have a little insight into his shot. However, despite being there and actually taking the exact same image (see mine below), we both approached it differently. This made the webinar that much more interesting to me.
As Pete worked on the image initially and then handed things off to me, I realized that we both had a few similar things in mind but went about them in entirely different ways. Despite wanting to achieve the best looking result for the image we both had different ideas about how to achieve it.
It was really interesting to see how Pete approached the image and what he had in mind when he started editing it. It got me thinking about a few things that many new photographers struggle with. They seek advice from people who may not share their same vision and understanding. While The Fro or Chase Jarvis may be great photographers, they are not known for their landscape work. So, they are not going to approach this shot with the same insight as you.
Your Image = Your Idea
Unless there is something technically wrong with your image like being out of focus, the horizon is crooked or being under/over exposed, then really the rest is up to you. This is an important piece of the puzzle.
While I can coach you on how to get the best out of your image, ultimately the final result is up to you. What did you envision when you took the shot? What inspired you to take that shot? These are all ideas that are in YOUR head and ultimately influence how you create final your image.
This is also where lack of direction can make for a weak image too. If you are not focussed on what you want to achieve in your image, it will show. Think about all the snapshots that you have taken with your phone, how many of them really have any sort of impact? It’s when you really think about what you want out of your shot that you start to figure out how to achieve that look. It may force you to learn something new as well.
The bottomline here is that you are in control of your images because each person will see your image differently but it is still YOUR image. The next time a person critiques your image, take a look at the photos in their instagram feed. Often they are nothing any near the style that you shoot. Think about the street photographer that spends most of his time taking pictures of stops signs and converting them to black and white, all the while coming up with some meaningful comment to going along with the image. Does this photographer really share the same inspiration that Richard had standing on the shore at 5 am watching a sunrise with fellow landscape photographers? Probably not. There was not a stop sign or a sleeping person on a subway train for miles.
So keep this in mind, everyone has their own approach to photography and you should work as hard at finding yours as you do figuring out how your camera works and what gear you should buy. Think about what you want and seek to achieve it. Pay less attention to the critiques of people on the internet and more to that inner creative voice.