I am engaged by photographs that elicit an emotional response. I want my own photographs to meet that standard and yet I realize that it is totally subjective. What one viewer finds sorrowful or joyful will likely be different from another’s view. But still, if we (as the photographer) are moved by a scene, a moment, or an event then it is likely that our audience will catch on to something that pulls them in. So the question for me, when helping clients or friends edit their work, is this: Am I engaged? Am I taking some extra time to really see the photograph or is it a ‘one look’ photo, a photo that might be graphically stunning but is one-dimensional? What are you trying to communicate as a photographer? Anything? What is your point of view? Do you have one? Or is it simply a picture of a pretty scene, thing, event? What does the photograph say about you, the photographer? Are there clues or is the mystery part of the appeal? In short, to paraphrase Sam Abell: Is it involving?
Of all the challenges to creating a successful or engaging photograph, among them lighting, technique, composition, setting, and gesture, the communication of feeling is for me the most important. Here is a small gallery with a wide array of subjects for you to critique.
A note about Sam: Over 1,000 people attended the opening of his new show, Amazonia, at the University of Oregon on Saturday, January 16th. Sam, along with the wonderful Danish photographer, Torben Nissen, spent months in the headwaters of the Amazon and came back with compelling, thoughtful images that tell the story of one of earth’s most precious resources. I hope you’ll get to see the show.