Sunday, December 17, 2006

The X-Factor

I'm not a big fan of reality television shows like the talent show X-Factor but I've just seen part of the final in the UK tonight. It looks like the birth of a big star, certainly two careers have been well and truly launched.

The concept of the X-Factor is quite interesting when applied to photography. Some photographers seem to have 'it'. What 'it' is exactly is very hard to describe. I suppose the makers of the TV program faced a similar dilemma. What is that special ingredient which lifts someone's work way out above the rest.

The X-Factor in photographic terms seems to be the ability to consistently produce images that have something special. No matter how hard one tries to sum up all the constituent parts, like technique, emotion, subject matter, lighting, composition etc there's always that elusive something extra, that 'X-Factor' which the stand out images have. It's impossible to create from a formula or a recipe; it's extremely elusive and thank goodness it just cannot be mass produced.

I think ultimately it is the product of every element working perfectly together to produce a single strong visual statement.

An experiment was conducted which you may have heard about. Researchers took the most beautiful nose, eyes, lips, ears, jawline from many different top models and actresses and put them together to construct, in theory, the face that should have represented our ideal of beauty. The result was monstrous. Beauty it would seem is the product of harmony between elements of perfection and imperfection. The analogy can be applied to photography too.

No wonder images that have the X-Factor are so elusive.

All the best,
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