I believe there are certain qualities that all great images possess, great lighting, tells a story, technically correct in terms of sharpness and exposure, the image shows that the photographer has created the image rather simply taking a photo, and of course emotion. But we do have to remember that not all images have to be sharp or exposed correctly as such, they may succeed for some other reason, but surely they are of a suitable standard.
If the image has been manipulated then it’s simply to enhance the qualities of an already very good image, this enhancement could have been achieved in a silver darkroom or digital darkroom using photoshop.
To appreciate the quality of a great image look no further than some of the masters over the last one hundred years.
So why do so many photographers find it necessary to over process their images, I know in a lot of cases it’s to be unique and create a style, but if they are in turn sacrificing photographic quality (I’m basing that on the image quality of the great masters) are they photographically correct, or has image quality been sacrificed in the name of art?
I believe a great image can be photographically correct and also be artistic. Being active in our local photographic society I find it so frustrating that the standard of judging from outside judges, many from the PSNZ list is so poor. Some of the most common ailments are: letting their personal likes and dislikes knocking out great images, just because they may or may not be interested in the subject matter, many judges obviously are not aware of what great image quality is.
Perhaps I have it all wrong, is there a written standard anywhere, I don’t think so, but surely if the great masters and the more recent great image makers are being recognized by there peers then this in itself is a benchmark. A classic example of this is educational institutions churning out photographers through there one year courses, they then think there accomplished photographers, so it does make we wonder, what are they being taught?
Lets have a look at one of the great masters, I admire his work very much, Henri (Cartier-Bresson). Here is one of his most famous images, take a close look at it, why is it acclaimed so much?
Hyères, France, 1932 © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos
No photoshop used here, but maybe some post work in the darkroom, just to enhance, but not to overpower, now lets look at some so called more modern work.
Sourced from http://www.photographyicon.com/shutterspeed3/
Do they compare, is the image of the women by her shopping a great image, according the website its a good image because its so mysterious!
So where to from here, if people want to become expert photographers (to use a term) then what should they be aiming for, if they challenge themselves what do they aspire to?
As for judges, if they are going to put there name forward to be a judge and give accurate critique to others work, don’t they need to meet a certain photographic standard in the judging?