All of this is based on personal taste, but in one of the forums a discussion took off that picked the image apart. At least one photographer felt it was far from perfect with blown out highlights and shadows under the eyes of the bride. It looked "gimmicky and contrived".
Anyway, the discussion went on long enough and eventually morphed into the topic of print competition. I decided to take the topics discussed as a post this morning, to hopefully help a few of you get back on track.
- A "wow" print is simply about positive impact. With every image you post in your galleries ask yourself one question, "If this was the only image I could show, would I get the job?" If the answer's "yes" then it stays, but "no" or even the slightest hesitancy means don't show it.
- You're spending a great deal of time to learn the rules of photography, but once you've learned them it's okay to break them. That's what makes you different and helps to develop your creativity. There are times when some of the rules can and should be broken. You have to decide when. Where too many of you get in trouble is never learning the rules in the first place!
- Print competition is about a group of judges deciding if your images meet their standard. It's exciting and I think one of the most valuable educational tools in the industry, especially if you attend and listen to the judges. However, a print that does or doesn't do well, has nothing to do with whether or not your client loved it. Dean Collins had the best line in regards to his work, "Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
- Scoring high in print competition is just one gauge to help you judge how you're doing, but only in competition. For example, Tony Corbell is one of the finest photographers in the world and has NEVER done well in print competition. In fact, jokingly we used to refer to him as the Susan Lucci of print comp. (If you're not old enough to know who Susan Lucci is, she's a soap star who was on day time soaps for years. She was nominated 19 times before finally winning an Emmy!)
- Last on the list, it doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree with other people's opinion of an image. Take everybody's comments and boil them down and mix them with what you feel in your heart. However, there are a few of you out there who just need to kick back and appreciate the variety of images that can make somebody go "wow". As far as Carey's image, nothing takes away from the fact that it makes me smile or better yet, it made Carey's client smile.
Carey, when asked how the bride felt about it commented, "...she really loves it and shares it often." and there's one more definition of a "wow" print - it's about marketing and sharing. Nothing will help you build your business faster than exceeding client expectations, making your work habit-forming and having clients share your work with other potential clients!