• What makes a photograph a success?

    I wonder how many people do the same thing I do. Do you take a load of photos which you take off the camera and stick on your computer and then leave them there? I do. All the time.

    The other day, I was backing up the last couple of commercial shoots (wow, after the shoot, photography really isn’t glamorous) and I found myself staring at a huge list of folders all tucked away on a secondary hard drive at the back of the computer and they’re stuffed with photos which I’ve never gone back and looked at.

    This got me thinking about how the way we consume photographs has changed and how we tend to just dump them on our computers and forget about them. It’s not that different to the box of photos you’ve got in the loft which you’d forgotten about until now. That old, slightly soft, cardboard archive upstairs comes out every so often and everyone has a tendency to gather around it and see all the old pictures we’d forgotten. Stories get re-told, and often embellished, people laugh and we all have fun. How lovely. You probably have tea and crumpets too.

    Regardless, we don’t tend to do that with digital pictures, and I think that’s a shame. We don’t even think about them in the same way. You might put some on Facebook, but how often do you even look at your friends photos? For me, if it doesn’t show up directly in my news feed I probably don’t even notice.

    More and more we don’t even think of photographs as photographs. - they’re ‘images’. Hang around with a couple of photographers (stalk a couple down the road next time you see some) and listen to them. Or go and lurk on a photography forum. It won’t be long before someone refers to a photo as a “great image”. Or an ‘amazing capture’. Or some other generic nonsense statement that says nothing more than ‘oh look, a visual record of an event, time or place that I can see with my eyes’.

    Anyway… realising I had all these stored photos I decided I’d have a look through them and see if anything jumped out at me. A photo I took a couple of years ago and didn’t like then might just stand out now. And d’you know what? It’s amazing how much you progress.

    I mean, I did find a couple of shots that I’d never processed which I felt had potential. I’ve stuck them in here for you to see. The first is the bonnet of a WWII American Jeep called Alice. I like it because there’s loads of detail and it’s bold.

    This second is some switch cabling on one of the decryption machines at Bletchley Park, a truly astonishing place and well worth a visit.

    But I’d wanted to write this blog about how I went back and found a catalogue of amazing shots which I’d forgotten about. About how they’re now all winging their way to press editors and high brow publishers and about how I’m sat here waiting for my big royalty cheque.

    But no. Firstly I realised that I’ve developed a lot as a photographer, especially when you look at my earliest efforts at being arty or edgy - they’re awful. That made me think… what is a successful photograph? Not to anyone else, but to me. Or you. I tend to fall in and out of love with my photos. Some I think are great at one stage and 6 months later I look at them and hate them.

    I think that a successful picture is one that you still like, or that you’re still proud of. It doesn’t matter how long ago you took it but as long as you look at it and you still like it then it’s successful. And it’ll stay successful as long as you stay proud of it.

    1 Comment

    • 1. Jun 29 2011 10:43PM by Gill Langridge

      How true this article is, I have hundreds of photgraphs that I keep just incase! Incase of what I don't know - perhaps one day some will want a picture of their horse that I took 2 years ago - but then again may be not.

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