Jeremiah Rogers

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Failure and Success, Week 3

I’m sharing three pictures this week. One of failure and two of success. Sharing only failure got old and negative. First the failure.

Outside Orussey Market, Phnom Penh. January 2015.

I took this first picture outside Orussey Market and was very happy with the perspective. A man on top of a truck, smiling at me, sky behind him. I thought “This makes me wonder where this photo is from. This is unique.”

The feedback a mentor gave me was much harsher and more direct. The photo is horribly distorted, the background is overexposed, and the man only makes up a very small part of the frame. On objective measurements the photo is horrible. There’s also a colorful bundle of plastic on the left, my mentor hates plastic. I don’t feel much about plastic but I’ll think about that.

It’s hard to objectively measure photo quality, especially in the direction of a photo being good. If a photo is good there aren’t a lot of ways to call it bad that will resonate.

I want objective measurements because I get emotionally attached to my photos. I tend to love or hate them and can’t see that a photo I love is actually bad. More important I can’t see that a photo I didn’t like might be interesting to other eyes.

As a result I’m coming up with some light point-based objective criteria for my own photos. I’m certainly not rating these photos based on points, that would be silly, but the points help me find things that are good or bad in photos.

If I rated my photos on points:

  • I’dd add a point for each person who’s face I can see.
  • I’d add a half a point for each face looking in a different direction.
  • I’d subtract two points for each stop that the exposure is off.
  • I’d subtract two points for blur or things out of focus.
  • I’d subtract a point for each quarter of the frame where there’s nothing interesting going on.

Measuring photos with points is one of the most rediculous ideas. No one measures art with points other than maybe dollar value at auction. This would also give my two best selling photos these grades:

This photo from Hanoi would get +7 for faces I can see, +2 for people moving in different directions, and -2 for being overexposed. It was properly exposed when I shot it, but I overexposed for effect. Total: 7 points.

This photo from Shanghai would get no points for the men facing away from me and minus a point for being overexposed.

Both of these photos do well on not having empty parts of the frame, having multiple people in them, and being interesting. The second photos is mostly interesting for being symmetrical and having “city life” in background.

This photo of a cow from Cambodia also has something people love about it that’s entirely uncaptured by points.

This picture has been called is an anti-postcard. It’s something you’ll never see again and it’s puzzling. In my point system it would get zero points, the same value as a properly exposed photo of a wall.

All of these photos are for sale in the store.

Now for the two relative successes of the week. In judging my own successes I’m going to try to stick to objective measurements. I can’t comment on the subjective feelings.

Outside Orrussey Market. One point for one face captured, zero penalties for having the whole frame full and being properly exposed. If we were to break rules I’d add a point for the contrast in size between the woman and the car.

Outside Orrussey Market. Six points for faces and each is looking in a different direction. That’s nine points, minus half a point for the top half of the image being mostly boring and empty and minus a point for having the man in the foreground out of focus. Not bad.

What’s my best recieved photo of the week? That’s by far this nicely lit photo of Orussey Market

Zero points!

I’m enjoying thinking about photos with a point system. It’s a strange exercise but it lets me lay some objective criteria onto the otherwise emotional process by which I edit photos.