Your extraordinary photographs

Written on December 3, 2011 by in Artistry & inspiration

As I mentioned in Thursday’s post, I have been debating a friend about what makes a photograph: emotional quality, technical expertise or something else.

I started by asking my husband and my father what photographs were most memorable to them, and when my father pointed out that emotion was required to make something memorable, I decided to tweak my question so that it would be less biased. I then asked blog readers, Facebook friends and the TwitterverseWhat is the most extraordinary photograph you’ve ever seen? 

Did changing the adjective from memorable to extraordinary change the responses? Yes and no.

The first response after the word change cited works by Ansel AdamsJoel Peter-WitkinChuck Close and Lewis Carroll (below left) as the most extraordinary, stating that “they all blew my mind a little.” For me, this comment signaled a shift from emotional connection to a greater appreciation of technique and aesthetics.

The next response, however, proposed Richard Avedon‘s portrait of Marilyn (below right), specifically because Marilyn’s expression was “so raw and reflective.” It appears that an emotional connection was the key there.

Then, one of my photographer friends suggested two portrait photographers, whose work “has a wow flare with surreal composition and use of textures!!!!!!,” so back to a focus on technical excellence.

As more responses trickled in, the answers alternated between those emphasizing technical merit and those focusing on emotional connection. In terms of the photographers behind the selected images, there was a clear departure from the first round. The “extraordinary” batch comprised landscape, fine art and portrait photographers whereas the “memorable” group had been photojournalists exclusively.

One of my former clients — sweet lady that she is — then suggested two photos I’d taken of her family.

Another photographer friend suggested Migrant Mother (below left), documentary photographer Dorothea Lange‘s most famous image, which he said was chosen for the balance of emotion and technical. 

Then, my cousin suggested photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt‘s VJ Day kiss (below right).

A photographer from Tokyo suggested Dan Winters’ portrait of Helen Mirren, which is technically stunning:

(c) Dan Winters

And then my friend, Stacie, said, “This photo by war photographer James Nachtwey is extraordinary because this famine victim was still alive :( It’s very disturbing”:

(c) James Nachtwey

As you can see, the word “extraordinary” prompted a lot of back and forth between pure technical excellence and gut-clenching emotion. When all the results were tallied, we were dead even. So the question remains: Is extraordinary photography a result of technical excellence or emotional resonance?

I could say its both, but instead, I’m going to agree with my photographer friend’s assertion that truly great photography is more about how it makes you feel inside than how it looks on the outside. And, of course, my choice has everything to do with who I am and what kind of photographer I am.

So, what do you think? Is extraordinary photography a result of technical excellence, emotional resonance or a combination of both? Whatever you decide, I think it says a lot about who you are as an artist (and human).

Cheers,
Kate-signature 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 

Comments are closed.


Trackback URL
http://artaligned.com/your-extraordinary-photographs/trackback/

Provocative philosophies on passion and profit, plus my latest mentoring and workshop offerings for visual arts and photographers.

The Inspired Way
Need a little inspiration to find your ideal life? Check out a new, free guide by 22 creative women (including me):