A while ago, I posted these two images on one of the social networks as an example of how my photography skills have evolved over time.
From a technical perspective, there are many flaws in the second photo. Some of the more obvious – mediocre composition, blown highlights, and lacking shadow details. The overall lighting for the photograph is too harsh. My goal was to capture the beauty of the place, but instead I came away with an image that is almost black and white. Still, more than one viewer commented that the image was a “moody” and “artistic” representation of the scene.
My first reaction was to dismiss those comments. Maybe they were posted by people who lacked the skills required to produce the photograph I really wanted. But on further reflection, I realized that not all great artists rely on technical perfection to create an impact. Sometimes, artwork lacks “technical correctness”, but still produces a strong emotional impact.
So I found myself contemplating this question: Do photographers try to disguise their mediocre photography skills as “artistic”?
For me, the question comes down to intent. If my intent was to capture the color, light, and details I saw in the forest, then my image is less than mediocre. On the other hand, if my intent was to capture an artistic impression of the forest, then maybe you’d say I succeeded in doing so.
Of course, in this case, my intent was to capture the falls the way I did in the first image (a few years later). Clean colors, rich details, and smooth water. I didn’t know how to do that the first time I photographed these falls. So rather than categorizing my earlier attempt as a failure – I think of it as an opportunity to learn… and learn I did. Now that I know how to capture a scene like this one more effectively, I have so many more options!
Do you evaluate yourself by your artistic ability or by your technical skills?
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