Types of images can pretty much fall into 7 categories. Not talking genres here.
A lot of people who’ve heard me talk on this subject have changed their shooting and displaying habits accordingly and found much better responses from their respective audiences. So please take the time to read, absorb, think about and work out how this may change your perspective.
It’s a very good idea to know the different ways of taking and displaying photos, so as not to assail viewers with images they shouldn’t see or don’t get anything out of, or misunderstand where you’re coming from. These days, social media is full of very mediocre images begging for constructive criticism but not asking for it. So we just have to look, sigh and scroll. No one wins.
If images are on your personal page for “real” friends and family, as memories or an event, fine. But if they’re on photographic sites purporting to be fabulous shots, those in the know scroll past and those who don’t know give us false likes and hopes so either way, we don’t learn. We should always be learning, I am after 50 years. The other problem is, to be truthful, sometimes it’s the blind leading the blind. The answer? Educate yourself into knowing the heart, mind and soul of imaging at least as much as you study technical stuff. Get Smart! You’re here now so that’s a start.
OK, the 7 types of photos: (Each of these will have their own in depth article coming up)
1. A snapshot image warts and all. Travel, family snaps, “pretty” scenes, anything where there’s nothing outstanding/highlighted in the image by way of technique. Not to be displayed to anyone other than your family, mother or loyal spouse. These can fall into the pleasure part of the brain only if the viewer has a connection with the images somehow. A snapshot is not using any technique. It may be a faithful recording of the subject, but it may not depict what the mind actually sees, perceives and interprets of the scene’s essence. When we look at a scene/subject, our mind selectively realises (hopefully) a scene’s essence, selectively exposes, admits and ignores light and shade, objects and details. But a camera, if not used properly, will simply get it all, warts and all. A viewer is left to look at and decide what’s important/nice etc and if nothing stands out, won’t be bothered with it and will move on.
For holidays though, it’s also liberating to know you’re “just” going to take holiday snaps without stressing too much, so you can enjoy the journey more. Your inherent skills will come into play anyway so just have fun.
2. Practice shots: Test, check, re-test, get opinions and critique. Limited exposure (sorry) to only people who know you’re practicing, and need help. Or say it’s a practice shot and ask for help. Otherwise viewers will have their brain transmitters fizzling out and their eyes glossed over and make rude comments of your skills if they think it’s less than perfect and should be perfect. The other scenario is you may not even realise you don’t know it’s good enough and wonder why there aren’t heaps of Likes for example. Unfortunately not enough time and thought is spent on the imagineering (imagination + engineering) side of imaging and the focus is just on technical, pixel peeping stuff. Article soon on Inspiration/Imagination/Engineering – 1/90/9.
3. Abstracts – The definition of abstract is an image that is no longer a representation of the original in any way. It is not recognizable of any particular thing. It may be a composite, macro, altered or artistic impression, or a tiny portion of the whole, using techniques, colouring processes or similar to totally obscure its original subject.
4. Candid moments, being at the right place at the right time. Street, kids, animals, life. Done well, viewers will activate their mental curiosity network, particularly if there’s a unique factor. These shots are generally opportune and with no time to fiddle with the camera shot to shot. Therefore, the settings need to be ready for a particular session (street) or event. Apart from the absolute immediate “ah/click” moment, have position, lens, relevant settings and composition set up. Then wait, observe and shoot. They must have a wow factor within themselves because of special/amazing/cultural/significant/unique content, otherwise they’re just personal snapshots.
Angel’s photo above screams of so many things that engage us, show us, and is a snapshot in our current time, culture and technology for example. A critique on that image is coming soon.
5. Commercial: Includes Fashion, Product and business “portraits” – that is, images for publication. Look at any magazine cover for the first two and you’ll get the idea. The latter’s style is changing though to a more relaxed personal portrayal. No more the stiff, serious chest out look. The shot above is slightly different, to highlight the personal small brewery element. Commercial shots should be uncluttered and highlighting the actual product. They are for commercial publication only, or showing on FB to educate others it seems. But it better reveal its commercial, not portrait, purpose, otherwise others will copy it thinking it’s what they should do for normal people portraits. (Oops, too late) Photographers will ooh and ahh over lighting perhaps, but normal viewers will only look and admire if the product is relevant to them. Normal people are not photographers so sharp, technically perfect images will bypass their “need to take notice and go ah” part of their brain. Fashion and product sessions are well set up with relevant lighting, studio or natural (or combination) and the purpose of these is to highlight the, wait for it …. fashion or product ….. Yes folks, models (noun) actually model (verb) things. A model isn’t a model unless they’re modelling something. And the “neutral” look is so they don’t detract from the product they’re displaying. So a frozen, bland, neutral look for a personal portrait is not in this category. Actually it’s not in any category, not even so called portraits. See below. Model portfolios are a class on their own though. More on Commercial and actual Portraits coming very soon.
Non commercial Creations: Proper portraits/portrayals, exhibitions, set-ups, and any “ordinary” or pretty scenes and objects #, should be turned into the extra-ordinary in some way. All images of any worth should include the 5 basic elements of SMART thinking. Read that article and you’ll fast become a head above the rest. # There are articles coming on each of the mentioned categories.
I’ve split this area into two.
6. Portraits/portrayals – humans and animals are social beasts because of deep brained social/interactive/inter-dependent needs, so a viewer is attracted to faces immediately. Babies (human or animal) turn on a woman’s nurturing part of the brain instinctively, female bodies turn on men’s brains (surprised?) because of the instinctive procreation need. Animals come next in interest because we’re part animal and there are associated links to them for a number of reasons – pets, food. But all of these photos only work when they’ve got character, cheeky, come hither, smiling, friendly, a mood, beauty, or their defining essence. Get to find and capture that and you’ll have a winner, get oohs and ahs, make millions and be known as a genius. Well, to some degree anyway. Pleeeeassssse try this.
Conversely, viewers will switch off at expressionless faces due to the “disinterest” factor of the brain. In fact, haughty expressions stir up the inferior/scared/insulted part of the brain. The brain responds to what expressions are shown it, to know whether it needs to: take action/react/respond, to fight, flight, freeze or forget. What else turns the brain off? Aloof, staring, dumb expression, pouting, mouth open, look at me poses, that are the norm for those who don’t understand either portraiture or modelling. Unnatural poses, stance, positions of hands, face, legs, angle of face and dull expressions, all look so unnatural that the brain can’t relate to it. In fact, it switches off as being alien – fact!
Pleeeeeeaaasssse pleeeeeaaasssseee try to not do this! Social media is sooooo full of boring so called pretend model portraits or dumb “not modelling anything” photos.
This will ruffle a few feathers I’m sure, but it’s a fact.
Much more on better Portraits and Modelling tips coming soon, it’s a biggie.
And last but not least:
7. Originals: These are purposely created images of any genre, taken or presented differently from the usual. (not abstract) Elements and techniques are used to highlight its uniqueness, or taken from a different view, interesting and/or complimentary light or mood. Like Ann’s superb image above, it’s a sign of an artist/creator/master when you can highlight it’s particular essence, uniqueness and mood, of a scene/subject into an attracting, engaging, call to action response such as Like, comment or buy. (more on that later too – will it never end?) To simplify it here, read the SMART process to know how to cover all these fields. Only the overview is ready now but it’s a good start.
There is an article coming on what makes a stunning scene a creation or showpiece, and how to present it in your unique way using various techniques. Otherwise it’s just an impersonal snapshot with little technique or creativity. Where’s the skill in that? Isn’t that just a snapshot that anyone with a point and shoot can take? And heavens knows there are millions of the same images second after second on media these days. That in itself should push us to look and think deeper to create unique, stand out masterpieces.
I love the old Monty Python scene where there are hundreds of people attending a motivational talk and when told to affirm their independence, they all chant in unison: “I am not a follower. I am an individual.” Really?
So the idea is to take THAT subject in YOUR way/interpretation. Otherwise, same same – so what!
All these 7 categories are valid – and at least for members/readers of this group – they should be displayed/posted with its purpose stated (1 to 7 above) so viewers can learn and/or contribute their comments. If you don’t want constructive comments, say so. But apart from personal media, aren’t we posting in photo groups to show AND learn, or are we so good that we can’t or won’t?
Think how liberating it would be to post an image and label it as Snapshot, Practice, Abstract, Candid, Commercial, Portrait or Original. Viewers can see it for what it’s worth and comment accordingly.
So there you have it, think about the type of photo you’re taking at the time and envision, shoot and show accordingly. Be seen as a master not a snapper. Take less, more kudos.
Learn more in SMART Thinking.
Agree, disagree? Good, discuss it and show by example and category below. Please comment on the name for number 6. Creation, Showpiece, Myview, Mytake………..others????