When I use the word acceptance in regards to the images I share with you today, I am speaking of a general acceptance with the general public and from other photographers. This despite the pictures having what might be described as flaws.
While these two images (they are a part of a larger group) that I captured of a Snowy Owl many years ago have always been popular, I admit that they are in many ways borderline.
My depth of field was very shallow here. With that said, my focus was on the head and especially the face, which is paramount. The lack of sharpness on the rest of this bird (or any other animal) is usually forgiven, as long as the head and face remain sharp.
These photos do not ”pop”. The sun was behind the clouds and the bird does not stand out from its surroundings. Despite that, I think there are two reasons why these images have been not only accepted, but popular.
Firstly the pose. This bird almost seems to be praying. Maybe giving thanks for the bounty of the day. Of course, it is not. The point is that even people who are not religious can relate. Secondly the softness of the image beyond the face, goes along with the pose to make these pictures “ethereal” in nature. One aspect compliments the other, and therefore vice versa.
These images have been accepted by many despite what might seem to be photographic flaws.
How about a less popular bird, the Wilson’s Snipe? The pose here is what I would call fun. Depth of field is a problem here too because the aperture is 7.1 with a 500mm lens, and the bird pretty much has its back to the camera. The focus “almost” covers the entire bird, but not quite.
I shot for the head so to speak, and let the rest of the bird to be as sharp as technology would permit. Now the head is important, but the tail of the bird is closer to viewers. That always presents a conundrum. The softer part of the bird is thankfully not badly out of focus, merely less in focus than the head. If I would have focused on the body and left the head a bit softer, me thinks the image would have failed completely. As is, there have been some who like it.
Most people will accept any sharp, pretty landscape from a famous place.. If you are fortunate enough to create the image under beautiful light, then so much the better.
The image below was made in one of the world’s most popular locations for landscape imagery, and done so under some moody, powerful light. Even though this picture, which I made in Monument Valley Utah/Arizona, does not include any of MV’s most iconic formations. Still, a great place and great light always makes for popular photos.
This next image was made nowhere special. The spring light was wonderful and the image said everything about a wetland pond in the height of the spring bloom. It has never been popular, and that is at least partly because, well who cares about this place when you share images from Monument Valley, the Colorado Rockies, or the Badlands of South Dakota as I often do.
Acceptance or rejection of an image, is often about things other than the quality or power of that image.
Many people are “subject driven” when they look at photos. If they do not care about the subject, they do not care about the photo. It takes somebody with a mixture of visual acuity and a mind that appreciates shapes and forms, as well as color, to appreciate the fungi image below, unless of course they already have an interest in things like mushrooms and fungus.
My view was always to create some images that could make me money, and for the rest, create the photos I “saw”, with both my eyes and my heart. Regardless if anybody cared for them.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to want people to like your photos. Some people like everything they see, and others are impossible to please. Learn the techniques and technology surrounding good photography, master the art as you see it and feel it, and let the chips fall where they may.
Sometimes too much of our lives is spent attempting to find acceptance and praise among those who may not be the sort to give generous compliments. In many cases, that does not mean they do not like what we do, be it in photography or life.
In the end, creating photographic images for enjoyment, is much like life. If you are not stepping on anybodies toes, and cause no one harm, follow your own instincts and refuse to live your life or make your pictures they way others would have you do.