The Technical Photograph

February 28, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

For a photograph to be technically correct, it needs to have these things (in no particular order):

  • Correct exposure
  • Good, clear focus
  • Correct color, no casts
  • Correct saturation
  • No artifacts/noise/dust spots/lens flare/etc.
  • Believable post processing
  • Correct depth of field
  • Good angle
  • Correct contrast
  • Real skin tones

Unless...

  • Incorrect exposure set the mood of the image
  • Blur was used to convey a message
  • A cool or warm tone was used to add feeling
  • Over or under saturation added to the story
  • Noise or artifacts created an illusion of age
  • Over the top post processing helped the photographer express a thought
  • Too narrow DoF was used to draw the eye
  • A funky angle made the viewer feel off kilter
  • Contrast was used to portray drama
  • ...I can't do this one, skin should always be skin colored!

Do you see what I'm getting at, here? Photography...ALL art, is subjective. There is no ultimate truth in the perfection of a photograph.

But, if I'm being honest, I think that portraiture is a horse of a different color! As a portrait photographer, I use my medium to say something about my client. It is my job to capture the truth of a person, to put the  multiple dimensions of that person or family into a two-dimensional representation and somehow convey all the rest that is lost in translation. Without those technical aspects, the whole basis of my ability to do that job would crumble and I'd be left presenting the client with "what I got" rather than what I intended to say about them.

This photo breaks rules...lots of them! Exposure and angle could be more technically pleasing and the lens flare is obvious. But those things were used to show Veronica's sassy, powerful personality and I think we pulled it off!


So, breaking the rules purposefully and to add to the photograph is one thing, but what about THIS:
I'm a mom, and I adore this terrible photo complete with missed focus and awkward head chop! This one doesn't show her personality using strategic bending/breaking of the rules, it shows her personality because of her expression! And there you have it...the unspoken portrait rule to break all rules. Expression rules every time.

This one might be technically better, but I can tell she's posing so it just doesn't have the emotional impact that the first one does.
Now, combine a perfect expression with way better execution and VIOLA!
I'll need an 8x10 for each grandparent!

What I mean to say is, Yes, photography is subjective. But technical skill improves the result every time!

Blessings,

Hillary

 

P.S. Here are a few more bad photos that I love!


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