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Tips for Better Pictures


Today's e-tip:

Why you aren't the best
judge of your own images

Your digital camera doesn't see the way you do. Understanding the differences in the way you and your camera sees is the start of taking great pictures.
Judging your Images

Are you the best judge of your own images?

Love and Work --or-- Work and Love

There is a philosophy that says that love creates work. When you love something, you tend to create work taking care of what you love.

There is another philosophy that says that work creates love. When you invest time working on/for something, you tend to love it. This is demonstrated in the "IKEA effect" which is that we tend to see an increased valuation for things that we had to WORK to create. People that build their own furniture from IKEA tend to think their furniture is better than professionally-built furniture because it was the result of their their labor. A paper on this phenomenon from the Harvard Business School indicates that:

"…the more effort people put into some pursuit, the more they come to value it…"
(see this article)

Photography and Emotional Vulnerability
Now, sometimes the "work" in a photograph isn’t exactly "work", but sometimes it is. I have taken images that required climbing up a mountain – that was a lot of work. I probably personally value the pictures I took on the top of that mountain more than some other, and possibly better, images that I've taken.

I've also traveled and photographed some beautiful locations where I have had an awe-inspiring experience. I didn’t have to do any physical work to take those images, but I had something similar - an awesome feeling viewing the beautiful scene. There was no physical work involved, but I developed an "emotional investment" in the scene and the subsequent photographs I took.

I may not have "worked" to take those images, but I feel the same emotional attachment to them as if I had performed work. Viewing those images is emotional for me - I get to feel what it was like when I was there. However, other viewers who weren’t there won’t get this same feeling. It’s this emotional investment that makes me vulnerable to thinking that the images are perhaps better than they really are. Even if the images didn’t come out just like what I saw (they never do), I still have a strong emotional attachment. I can’t help but think that these images are better than they really are.

Get a Critique
Don't be shy in asking somebody who doesn't have the same emotional baggage as you do, for a critique. They don't have to be a "professional" photographer - everyone knows what they like. We humans have certain design concepts hard-wired into our brains. Although sometimes we may not know why, we know when we like something.

The "Golden Rectangle" (or "Golden Section") is a prime example of what humans find "aesthetically pleasing", but nobody really knows why. It's just something hard-wired into us. (see here for more information on the "Golden Section" and design).

So, don’t be the only judge of your own pictures. Rely on others who aren’t as emotionally attached to tell you what they like and don't like about your images.


Snowy Egret


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