For a switch I’m not complaining or whinging about me trying too hard and not succeeding. Quite the opposite is true – I don’t try hard enough! Instead, something occurred to me today while reviewing pictures taken by others that had been posted as part of an online weekly photo competition of sorts. Perhaps I should clarify; a thought that had been previously sewn was further cultivated today while reviewing those photographs and I feel compelled to talk about it here.
Please understand that this is simply my opinion; neither right nor wrong. It is nothing more than my personal interpretation of what I see in pictures taken and posted across the Internet.
I wish I could convey exactly what it is I mean by a picture ‘trying too hard’ (which, I suppose, really means the photographer tried too hard). It’s one of those things where I know it when I see it. However, during a visit to the WC earlier today I contemplated what it is I mean and the word ‘cliche’ came to mind.
By cliche I mean things like the following: shooting in or converting to black & white when the subject matter is something older (older car, older person, older house, etc.), overly-posed subjects (where any chance of the subject having been posed on its own in that manner is highly unlikely), a close-up of two hands holding each other (and often in black & white), etc. How about a perfect example……I came across one image that was of an older car (1940’s or early 1950’s) stored in a barn with hay all about the place, a cracked windscreen and lots of dust all over the car. The only cliche missing from this image was it having been shot or converted to black and white.
I guess you could say an image that exhibits this characteristic of trying too hard is one that has been done, and done a million times over by a million different photographers. Sure; they’re artistic (or so I imagine). Sure; they appeal visually (even I’m not that completely jaded). I guess that’s why folks continue to shoot these sorts of images…..because they do illicit a positive emotional response from the viewer. Yet the more I look at images posted online the more jaded I become about these types of images.
Unfortunately I’m just as guilty of doing the same things though. When I’m out shooing pictures I know, I’m absolutely certain, that in the back of my wee little brain I’m thinking “Ohhhh! I’ve seen this sort of thing before and it generated a very positive emotional response in me. I should shoot it too!” or something to that effect. And the flip side of the problem is that I will review my photos and tell myself they’re rubbish simply because are trying too hard!
Whatever happened to simply making me happy? (and I know what you would say Mike….)
Of course, if I were simply interested in making myself happy why then post my images online? Worse still, why post only certain images online; those being the ones I deem to be the best, which means I’m likely utilizing my preconceived notions of what makes a picture great (which may in itself mean I’m trying too hard!)
All I really wanted was a better kit. A kit that would allow me to take better pictures of my family, including the cats and dogs. While digital point-and-shoots are just fine in the great scheme of things, they really are quite limited in their abilities and the images they create have a host of issues (as evidenced by any review found on any web site for a digi p&s camera). I wanted more speed, quicker shutter release response, higher quality images at higher ISOs and image stabilization (which one can get on some digi p&s’s, but…..).
So what do I do? Learn to live with photos that I think are trying too hard (including my own)? Learn to do something different and stop judging my artistic interpretations by standards established by others? Give in to the warm embrace of the system and learn how to convert everything I shoot into black & white? I don’t know…….my gut reaction is to work outside the box, buck the trend and do whatever the hell I want. After all, that’s what I have done most of my life (for better and worse). Maybe I should stop posting my images? Maybe the secret is to not put mine out there so that I feel a stronger urge to compare them to others? Again, I don’t know.
It’s a tough spot and I’m not certain how best to nick it.