On Reflection … Week Nine, Module One

In the previous week, I spent quite a lot of time thinking about what makes a photograph “interesting”, something that attracts attention and has appeal.

This had a lot of relevance, as this week’s topic was “critical theory”.

I belong to an online food photography group and, as an experiment, I thought I would throw my hat into the ring by contributing an image and seeing what would happen.

Hopefully, I produce quality images that people find pleasing to look at and which have some point of interest. At least, that’s the intention. But is that what I am achieving?

I had an image in mind, something that I felt would make an appropriate submission – given that this was an informal experiment. But, before making the submission, I wanted to do some editing which is something I haven’t done before, certainly not in relation to my food photography, it’s not my “style” of photography – my images are made “in camera” with post-processing being very limited to tweaking the odd exposure, adjusting colour balance or contrast slightly and some sharpening.

Having invested a reasonable amount of time on editing the image, I was very pleased with the result. And through research, trial and error I learnt a new technique which is effective, repeatable and reproducible.

So, the submission was made … …

And nothing happened.

Well, I say “nothing happened”, it is probably more correct to say nothing happened in relation to my image.

At risk of repeating myself, I don’t set out to take poor quality images. In my opinion, the image I submitted certainly wasn’t poor quality, nor was it my “usual style”, nor was it like any other image being submitted.

In context, there is a decent number of images being submitted to the group by a fair number of contributors.

And the spread of quality is fair too, covering the full spectrum: images which need quite a bit of work being submitted by enthusiastic beginners, through to outstanding images being submitted by photographers who have developed their style and technical ability over a number of years.

And what I noticed has me perplexed. I’ve been left with more questions than answers.

Every single image submitted since my own contribution was made has attracted either at least one “like”, or a comment, or both.

Every image, that is, except mine.

Images which are routine, mundane and can be seen posted by people out for a meal with family and friends where they just point a camera ‘phone at a plate of food and snap away … …

Images where time has been spent thinking about the subject, the lighting and the composition before pressing the shutter.

So, what’s going wrong? Why the abject lack of interest? Where do I go from here?

Well, there’s a lot of analysis to be done even on this very basic and limited experiment.

Something to bear in mind, though, is that the group is just one “audience”, most of which may have little, if any, knowledge of critical evaluation. That’s not to detract from the value of their collective opinion though, in fact it emphasises the need to cast the net wider and canvass opinions from a more diverse range of “audiences”.

I’ve got ideas of how to take the experiment forward in a way which will, hopefully, provide some meaningful data which can be used to reflect upon and develop my personal photographic practice.

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