1. Some pictures pull me in. I can’t stop looking at them. Or I keep going back and looking again. I can’t identify exactly what it is that has that effect on me. It’s always different.
2. Post processing (PP) doesn’t matter. People obviously have different taste when it comes to PP. Some pictures attract my attention just because of the way they’re processed, and others immediately turn me off because of the PP. But, if a picture falls in the above category, i.e. one that pulls me in, then the processing is essentially meaningless. HDR, high key, low key, blurry, color, B&W, none of that matters if the picture speaks to me somehow.
3. Subject matter isn’t that important. It’s true that I’ll look at pictures of cats and girls, but the pictures that really work for me can be of just about anything. It’s not necessarily the subject that makes the image, but what’s going on in the image that makes the subject interesting. Like they say, it’s about the story. And that story has to happen in my head in order for me to like the image.
4. Sometimes shapes and patterns work, sometimes they don’t. Apparently formulas are best avoided.
5. People are one of the best, and most difficult subjects. As a corollary to #3, a snap of a naked chick will always get my attention. But, the pictures of nudes that I actually like as good images are very rare. Pictures that are set up or posed never work for me. Candid is always better, but catching a candid shot that works is very difficult. You basically have to be lucky. Nothing wrong with luck, as long as it’s good luck.
6. It’s almost impossible to take a bad cat picture. Like sex and pizza, even when they’re not that good, they’re still not that bad.
7. Every single photo exists because someone decided to point a camera at something and push the button. Whether or not that inspiration comes across in the picture can determine whether or not you are attracted to a picture. But the lesson in this for me is, instead of just looking at the world with your eyes, seeing how things look, you also need to be tuned in to how things make you feel when you see them. The trick then becomes to capture that feeling in an image. If you can look at that image later and bring that feeling back, then that is a successful image. It doesn’t matter if anyone else ever gets it, if it works for you, then it works.
8. Photography should be fun. If you enjoy taking pictures and you like the pictures you take, then you’ve won. It doesn’t matter if anyone else ever likes any of your pictures, or if anyone ever even sees any of your pictures. Look at Vivian Maier. She shot for nearly 50 years without sharing her work with other people. She simply loved what she did, and apparently that was enough.
9. Thinking about photography is not the same as doing photography. Instead of making lists, I should be out shooting.