Artistic License

All too often I hear someone comment on another's work with a "he processed it wrong"  "she messed up the composition"  "the colors are all wrong"  and the list of criticisms stretches on in an infinite stream of opinions.  Everyone has at least one, some have more than nature intended.

Okay, so how do we know if an image really is processed properly or if the composition is correct?  This will be hard for some to accept but the fact is, an image is correct if the artists vision is represented in a way that pleases the artist.  It's really that simple.  Whether or not we (as third party observers) like it, from an artistic standpoint, is immaterial.  We should all make such images, images that we intend only for self-satisfaction.  A type of photographic self-pleasure if you will.

This extends further into comparisons of a hobbyist and a professional.  A hobbyist can be into photography purely from a selfish standpoint much more often than a professional.  Sure, sometimes a hobbyist has to please his/her spouse, or perhaps they get roped into photographing a family function and they try to produce images which please as many as possible.

A professionals job is different.  We must please the client.  Our job is made more difficult because often clients don't know what they want, or worse they think they know what they want when they don't.  This is where communication and portfolios and sample galleries become invaluable.  Still, sometimes the client just doesn't have the experience, knowledge, or taste necessary to know what they need.  Example?  Sure, why not..

How about an album cover or book jacket?  As an artist themselves a musician or writer often has a more keen insight into what they want on the cover/jacket.  This is great.  However, a cover/jacket has a more urgent purpose than being artistically pleasing to the musician/writer.  A cover/jacket is a primary tool to sell as many albums/books as possible.  Therefore the photography for the cover/jacket should match the target audience of buyers.  And most often the musician/writer hasn't the necessary marketing background to realize what type of art would promote and sell their art more than another.

This holds true for many genres of commercial photography from advertising to head shots for actors.  A good photographer knows their markets and has developed a sort of sixth sense for what sells and what doesn't.  This is a lot like judging the beauty of a woman.  How often have you had a friend or acquaintance tell you they've met the most beautiful woman, a real stunner, a beauty beyond compare, and then when you meet her you look at your friend kind of cross-eyed wondering what he found attractive about this canine in a dress.

A professional photographer knows the markets.  He might not know the type of woman YOU find attractive, but he/she most often knows the type of woman MOST will find attractive.  Or, the type of woman a certain demographic will find attractive over another.

Try to be open minded.  When your photographer, or barber, or clothes salesperson, or even your waitress makes a suggestion.. do consider allowing them to take a bit or artistic license..


Until next time..