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  1. #1
    Film Forum Moderator Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Question How do you balance....

    your personal taste/style vs popular opinion in your photography? This is something I've been debating a lot lately. I'm still relatively new to photography, at least as far as trying to take my work seriously. While the critiques I have received here have helped me immensely, I find I often walk away torn. I submit images that are based on my own vision/feeling of a given situation or place. The critiques, while they often make great sense and make for a great and/or better composed photograph technically, they may not always reflect how I "see" the subject myself. How I view something may not be the technically correct way or the most popular way. I'm sure no matter how much all of you want to take the shot that is most visually appealing to yourselves, you want a shot that others will enjoy as well. Okay, I'm rambling at this point... basically what I'm curious about is when you take a photo, how do you balance/decide to go with your own taste/style/flare vs what the "popular version" or technically correct version may be?

    PS- Sorry for the rambling. Been a LONG week and I tend to over think things when I get behind on sleep
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  2. #2
    Poster Formerly Known as Michael Fanelli mwfanelli's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Quote Originally Posted by Xia_Ke
    your personal taste/style vs popular opinion in your photography? This is something I've been debating a lot lately. I'm still relatively new to photography, at least as far as trying to take my work seriously. While the critiques I have received here have helped me immensely, I find I often walk away torn. I submit images that are based on my own vision/feeling of a given situation or place. The critiques, while they often make great sense and make for a great and/or better composed photograph technically, they may not always reflect how I "see" the subject myself. How I view something may not be the technically correct way or the most popular way. I'm sure no matter how much all of you want to take the shot that is most visually appealing to yourselves, you want a shot that others will enjoy as well. Okay, I'm rambling at this point... basically what I'm curious about is when you take a photo, how do you balance/decide to go with your own taste/style/flare vs what the "popular version" or technically correct version may be?

    PS- Sorry for the rambling. Been a LONG week and I tend to over think things when I get behind on sleep
    It all depends. If you are a pro, you are required to do what sells or you starve. Very romantic but painful! If you are an amateur, all bets are off.

    I don't mind critical comments but I make the decision as to whether they are relevent or not. In my case, I usually get "needs more saturation." Well, I don't like over the top saturation (always hated Velvia in the film world). I ignore that. Other times, suggestions for changes in composition, framing, lighting etc. make sense and I'll take that seriously. Even there, tastes varies and sometimes I just don't agree.

    If you like what you are shooting, don't worry about it. As an amateur, the only person you need to please is yourself. If you are the only person in the world who likes a certain photograph, great! Remember, opinions are just that: one person at one time.
    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

  3. #3
    Film Forum Moderator Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    eThanks Michael You're right... I REALLY need to stop over thinking these type of things
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  4. #4
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    take what you need from them and leave the rest. For example, say someone suggests that your focus is horrible. You may look and say, okay yeah, I could have focused better. Say someone says you chopped into the head and it would be better if you didn't. Well, okay, I happened to like chopped heads, so I would let that one slide.

    Mr. Fanelli has a great point regarding pro vs amateur. If your paying bills, you need to shoot what sells, regardless of how you feel about it.
    I sleep, but I don't rest.

  5. #5
    Film Forum Moderator Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Thanks adina I guess part of it is this... I work in a town that is essentially a small artists' community with about a dozen galleries. Quite a few people I know in the area have seen my work have been pushing me to go to a couple of the galleries and shops with some prints of some of my stuff. Problem is, the shots they mention/pick out, aren't necessarily what I personally enjoy shooting. Part of me is like "wow, it would be nice to make a few extra $$$ to pay for my toys as this isn't exactly a cheap hobby". The other part of me just doesn't really like the traditional, boring, touristy beach shots and doesn't want to bother with it
    Aaron Lehoux * flickr
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  6. #6
    Senior Member racingpinarello's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    As a pro or amateur you need to have your own vision. Take pictures on something you truely care about and develop it. That's the main balance.

    If you are a pro, then you tackle the job that you are given. Then you go back to your vision.

    Always stay true to your style of photography because you have to care about what you photograph.

    Loren
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  7. #7
    Seasoned Amateur WesternGuy's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    I tend to agree with the sentiment expressed here so far. Being an amateur, I take photos of what I like and want, which is mostly landscape and wildlife. People pictures are usually at family gatherings and often posed. I do not take pictures of other, non-family, people unless they ask first.

    I do not try and remake other people's pictures, but try and do what works for me. Sometimes the final result works, sometimes it doesn't. I have also thought about trying more macro stuff. :blush2:

    I know there are some rules of composition and design, but as you know rules were made to be broken. So, I would say "go ahead, do what works for you and if it doesn't work for someone else, that's their problem". Try not to over-think the situation. :thumbsup:

    Cheers,

    WesternGuy

  8. #8
    Firefighter Tyson L. Sparks's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    I am going to ruffle a few feathers here, I hang out here to read and learn. I have a friend here I talk to about 3 time a day VIA PM. I am done trying to post what I think is a "great picture" in the critique forum and getting no comments at all. I have seen flowers get more good comments than some of my work. I am talking a flower that 15 or 20 people can come along and take the same picture. They would all look the same. When I post I always here crop crop crop, if I do all this cropping there won't be a picture left!! Most everyone here seems to have read the same photography book and is afraid to be bold and daring. No one wants to shy away from the rule book, I say the heck with that. Be creative and enjoy what you do. Check out some of the pictures on my web page, they are unique. I am now in the process of learning how to use CS2.

    Opinions are like, you know what and everybody has one! This is just mine.

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  9. #9
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    This is a great subject. I wanted to get some pictures in a Art Gallery here in Rome for local Artist. I had to present a portfolio and an example of how my pictures would be presented, framed and matted, to the counsel. I got some great advise from a fellow member here at PR. I chose a theme of Local Area Landmarks. I think I wore you guys out in the critique forum with them. I did get in and was allowed a place for four prints of my choice. But with that said, it is a business and your pictures need to sell. So I chose three pictures that are popular landmarks and one personal favorite. My personal taste are not always the most popular. I love Infrared pictures but it's not for everyone.
    Greg
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  10. #10
    Film Forum Moderator Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Tyson, I know you and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye on what is a good image but, I can relate to you frustrations. Here's a good example.... I have a Photo-A-Day gallery on PBase. I use it mostly for trying new things and posting experiment shots. Yesterday, I was playing with flash settings. I don't own a speedlight or have the $$$ to get one at this time so I'm trying to learn to make best possible use of the onboard flash. So I post this stupid little shot I took while monkeying around. This shot has received a vote already, plus I received some compliments from a couple people I chat with there, and to top it off, it's had more views than this shot that I was really proud of Drives me nuts.
    Aaron Lehoux * flickr
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  11. #11
    Film Forum Moderator Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Congrats on getting in to the gallery Greg Since we're on the subject of personal taste vs popular opinion, do you mind if I ask how your favorite faired against the other 3? For curiousity's sake, are the images in your gallery? Would love to see which you chose
    Aaron Lehoux * flickr
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  12. #12
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    I would be more than pleased if someone said they wanted to buy one of my photos but I would soon not enjoy photography if I had to market. I just want some nice stuff I can share with friends and maybe give them something they like.
    Keep Shooting!

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  13. #13
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Two were pictures of the City Clock here in Rome. It's by far the biggest seller. The others were the picture of Coconuts Ice Cream Shop and the personal favorite was an IR picture that got feature of the week here at PR. I have been meaning to go by the gallery and take a couple of pictures and post them.
    Tyson, The first rule of photography is to please yourself first and have fun.I too know what you are going through. Keep at it. Your getting there.
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

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  14. #14
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Quote Originally Posted by Frog
    I would be more than pleased if someone said they wanted to buy one of my photos but I would soon not enjoy photography if I had to market. I just want some nice stuff I can share with friends and maybe give them something they like.
    I agree in some ways, but there are some subjects here in Rome I don't shoot simply because I don't like them. Even though they would probably sell. I haven't seen to much night photography here in Rome so that's the approach that I take. But I only shoot subjects that I like in ways I want to do it. Some of my subjects have never been covered. Things are different at night.
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

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  15. #15
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Quote Originally Posted by mwfanelli
    It all depends. If you are a pro, you are required to do what sells or you starve. Very romantic but painful! If you are an amateur, all bets are off.

    .
    Thats not exactly true, more and more publications are going for those who don't follow the "established rules" and shoot what their own way.

    JS
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  16. #16
    Firefighter Tyson L. Sparks's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Quote Originally Posted by Xia_Ke
    Tyson, I know you and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye on what is a good image but, I can relate to you frustrations. Here's a good example.... I have a Photo-A-Day gallery on PBase. I use it mostly for trying new things and posting experiment shots. Yesterday, I was playing with flash settings. I don't own a speedlight or have the $$$ to get one at this time so I'm trying to learn to make best possible use of the onboard flash. So I post this stupid little shot I took while monkeying around. This shot has received a vote already, plus I received some compliments from a couple people I chat with there, and to top it off, it's had more views than this shot that I was really proud of Drives me nuts.

    Yep I got a feature here for a shot were I held the CAMERA over my head and shot! I didn't even look through the view finder. Now thats funny. I took some softball pictures and froze the ball in flight, got hardley any comments good or bad. It's funny.

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  17. #17
    Ex-Modster Old Timer's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    I think that as humans most all of us are pleased when we get positive comments or critiques of our work. I will many times offer my own opinions of others work as well. But as I always try to emphasize to those that I make suggestions to about their work, to your own self be true. The one that matters in the long run is you and what you think about your work. I express appreciation to others for their comments and opinions and sometimes I certainly see the merits of their suggestions, however I don't try to please anyone but myself and if I don't agree with the suggestions I sure don't change an image or how I take another. As the artist you are the one that controls your creation, why should it matter to you what other think if you are pleased with the image.
    Don't forget about the Gallery. Are your photos there??


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  18. #18
    Film Forum Moderator Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    I know a big problem of mine, continuing on the overthinking things line, is that I tend to second guess myself. I know there have been 2 or 3 times where at first I had been really happy with a shot and then after the critiques, I second guessed myself into seeing them as crap. This happened to anyone else ?
    Aaron Lehoux * flickr
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  19. #19
    Firefighter Tyson L. Sparks's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    NA not me, I know when I have a good shot. I just need to be able to have more good ones through the view finder.

    How can I be lost
    If I've got nowhere to go?

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  20. #20
    Moderator Didache's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    This is a really interesting area, and one in which there will be three opinions for every two people!

    Of course, most of the posters are absolutely right in that if you are an amateur you really don't need to please anyone but yourself (unless, like me, you are involved in the club scene and have to please judges to a degree). If you like what you do, and you get pleasure from it, then that is the most important "opinion" of all. No argument.

    However (and it is a big However), there are certain things which make one photograph "good" and another one "poor" - basic things like being critically sharp where it's supposed to be, getting the saturation right, avoiding blown-out highlights, foreground interest in landscapes, etc. Sometimes it's hard to critique your own work and a fresh eye is useful.

    There are a lot of pretty good photographers on this forum and I would certainly be foolish if I ignored some of their critiques on my own work without at least considering whether or not they might be right. That is (to me) part of the value of this forum. Of course I am free to reject the critique (as I sometimes do) - but I always consider it at least.

    In other words, if you are happy with what you do and just want to share it, then that's great. If, however, you want good photographers to help see things in your own work that you might have missed, then that's great too. Depends on what you want.

    Cheers
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  21. #21
    Poster Formerly Known as Michael Fanelli mwfanelli's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Quote Originally Posted by Xia_Ke
    I know a big problem of mine, continuing on the overthinking things line, is that I tend to second guess myself. I know there have been 2 or 3 times where at first I had been really happy with a shot and then after the critiques, I second guessed myself into seeing them as crap. This happened to anyone else ?
    A shot I like never turns to "crap" based on a critique. But there are times when I've taken the advice given and then go out and take an even better image!
    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

  22. #22
    Senior Member swmdrayfan's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Xia, I know exactly how you feel. Everybody's been pretty much in agreement. You post those shots that you really like, and after a few critiques you come away with some doubts. Personally, it has led to some serious frustration, but I'm starting to get a grasp on it now, I think. I have yet to have a featured photo in the critique forum (after 2,000+ posts, I think I've set some kind of record ), but I'm learning from what others are trying to tell me, so those frustrations have abated somewhat. Trying to find the right balance between what I like and what others think about a photo is an ongoing challenge. At least now I'm starting to use what I've learned here. We have a few that are into saturation, a lot who like cropping, and some who like other techniques. I think you have to please yourself before you can please others. JMHO.
    John

  23. #23
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Quote Originally Posted by JSPhoto
    Thats not exactly true, more and more publications are going for those who don't follow the "established rules" and shoot what their own way.

    JS
    It's exactly true. He didn't say follow the rules, he said shoot what sells. If non-rules photos are what's selling, that's what you shoot. Unless you plan on keeping a day job, or being a starving artist. Personally, I'm not interested in starving.

    I'm in the position that I don't have to pay the bills. I can shoot what I want, and sell it to who is interested in buying this specific niche. If I had to pay bills, we'd either have to cut way back in our lifestyle, or I'd have to be less picky about what I do.
    I sleep, but I don't rest.

  24. #24
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    Re: How do you balance....

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyson L. Sparks
    Most everyone here seems to have read the same photography book and is afraid to be bold and daring. No one wants to shy away from the rule book, I say the heck with that.

    Opinions are like, you know what and everybody has one! This is just mine.

    Well, that rules me out. I don't read books.
    I sleep, but I don't rest.

  25. #25
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    Ah, the eternal question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Xia_Ke
    basically what I'm curious about is when you take a photo, how do you balance/decide to go with your own taste/style/flare vs what the "popular version" or technically correct version may be?...
    Well, obviously a great topic, and one that could be debated forever. Because there is no perfectly right answer...

    When it comes to critiques, especially on this site, you must consider the source.

    While most everyone has an opinion, and a lot of them can certainly talk the talk, not everyone knows what they are talking ABOUT.

    Not only that, but many people have their own set of rules and/or limitations which they feel must apply to everyone, and they're quick to let you know when you step outside of their "self-proclaimed" boundaries.

    So, as Michael says, you have to know what to listen to, and what to ignore. Otherwise you will be pulled in an endless amount of directions and will end up being clueless as to what your "vision" actually is.

    In the world of professional (commercial), art (gallery), and (to a certain degree) even amateur photography, you have to figure out whose opinions and approval is the most important and valuable to you, and concentrate on paying attention to them...

    As you shoot more and more, you will (hopefully) develop a natural style or "vision" in your work. As you continually edit your photos, you should gravitate towards a consistent sort of image that you like the best.

    As you get better at the technical end of shooting, you will think less and less about it as you work, and concentrate more on the "message", "emotion", or "impact" or your images.

    As for me, I'm always interested in what anyone thinks about my work, and am happy to discuss it, but unless it's someone whose opinion I value, it's just small talk...
    "Riding along on a carousel...tryin' to catch up to you..."

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