One of my favorite comments among photographers in my photo groups is about the sharpness of their photos. We tend to be obsessed with sharpness.
"Is this lens sharp? Facebook ruined the sharpness! My photo has soooo much grain."
These are all comments that come out on a regular basis. I am not writing this as a means to bash those photographers that are looking for sharp images, I look for them too. But rather I am writing this to remind people that sharpness is not everything. People connect to images because of emotion. Yes, those of us in the photography world look at theses epic images of people and think wow that is incredible! One of the eye opening experiences came early on in my career after I would choose these epic landscape photos to share, the ones where the people are tiny in the photo, like the one below.
But I received a comment on one of my images from a mother of the bride who asked "Your photos are beautiful, but do you have any photos where we can see their faces."
This hit me, I was posting for other photographers more so than the friends and families or the people in the images. While I love these epic photos, I have never had someone come back and purchase a canvas or large print of one of them. What captures people is emotion.
So I sought to incorporate more of this into my images.
One photographer that influenced my work majorly in this aspect is Candice Zugich of The Blissful Maven Check out her work because she is rad. But she loves to get close to her subject. When I first came across her work I asked her about what lenses she uses as she gets so close. I figured she would use like a 70-200mm, but she only used 35mm. (In turn it is not about the equipment, but because she gets close in person not with a zoom, she connects with her couples) So when you see her work you realize she is inches away from her couples, and in turn captures great emotion.
So I broke out of my comfort zone and started to get close. And the results were awesome. My clients and friends and family loved them, and I loved them. It was really hard at first, but in being close to my couples, I had to be comfortable, and this in turn made them comfortable.
So what about quality?
As I mentioned, many times photographers get caught up on sharpness and not about the content and emotion. My absolute favorite photos is shot by the war photographer Tim Hetherington. His biography Here I Am is an amazing read, In the early days of digital photography, Tim chose to shoot film, both medium format and 35mm. For awhile I had this image as my background and then I had a copy of it next to my desk, but I keep it there as a reminder that emotion trumps all.
The emotion in that is captured in this image always makes me stop and just take it in. But I also think about how as far as quality many photographers would throw this out due to how blurry/out of focus/ and the grain in the photo.
So I guess to sum up, when "Aunt Jean" or "Uncle Bob's" photo gets more likes than your's remember that they have an emotional tie to the photo and the people in it. Do what you do and keep on keep'n on.