You have the power
An intricate dance.
Photography is a language and like all languages it takes some effort to learn.
I am not referring to the technical side of things – that is the easy part.
This is about the emotional, the thing that actually connects with the viewer. I can look at a photograph and see that it is exposed well, composed well and everything else well yet the image leaves me cold. On the one hand I can appreciate the technique but the photograph doesn’t speak to me.
A photographer needs to go deeper than technique, to be able to either bring an emotion to an image or see an emotion within an image that can be drawn out and presented to the viewer. The viewer has to feel empathy for the photograph to work – to make them want to look into the photograph and even to return to it.
This is where seeing is important. The photographer has to know what visually is likely to trigger an emotional response. Now this is where I am going to double back on myself a little – not only does this have to be learned but the technique to achieve it has to be known. I stick by my original statement that learning the technique is not hard. We are not talking about Photoshop layers being manipulated at pixel level here, rather differences in contrast, crop, saturation – the basics.
The next time you are editing a photograph go beyond the standard teachings e.g. exposure, noise reduction, filling in shadows, cropping etc. and decide what the image means to you and what you want it to mean to the viewer – Example: Are you trying to portray a hard brutal reality or do you want to idealize something in a romantic way? Obviously very different editing approaches would best serve these very different efforts. At the risk of stating the obvious a harsh, dissonant approach for the former and a softer more harmonious approach for the latter would likely yield the required effect.
Edit according to what draws you to the image and what will hopefully draw your viewer to it. Don’t do what many photographers do which is to have more or less a preset workflow regardless of subject or emotional content. The actual taking of the photograph is only a part of the project – your job as an artist is to then work on directing the viewers attention so that the image can have the impact that it should,