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Appreciating photographs

When you see a picture you generally either like it or it does nothing for you. Images evoke an instant emotional reaction in the viewer before we start analysing the content.

When I look at many of the images uploaded on social image sharing websites and see that they have pages of comments and heaps of praise I often wonder what it is in the image people are responding too. Many of the shots are technically poor, the content is of little interest (to me) – so I wonder…

Then there are other images that, if you really look and ‘read’ the image, have many wonderful elements, but they appear to be passed up by the mass audience.

Highly manipulated arty photos, pictures of pretty girls and the usual visual clich├ęs seem to do much better than photojournalistic images that show the human condition.

It’s interesting that audiences are attracted to arty pictures with added textures, HDR and hyped colours. On the other hand, when it comes to wanting to see a news image, the same audience demands the truth, not an artistic visual manipulation. This also generally applies to most adverts – we want to be shown the real colours of that dress, food or whatever is being advertised.

I suppose it just means that images are consumed in a different way when they’re shared with other photography enthusiasts to when we want them to provide useful information.

If you think about it, commercially most successful images are straight photographs, but web photo-audiences, on websites like Flickr, seem to show far more appreciation for manipulated images.

Photography is a process of making choices – from location to lighting, to enhancements in Photoshop, to selecting which images to show. In the coming weeks I hope to provide insights into why I find a selection of images interesting.

Till soon,
Paul

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