Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 19, 2011. The article is part of our weekly Inspiring Photos column, but the message in this particular post is an important one, so we would like to refresh the article for all of our newest readers.
It is easier to gain the respect of your fellow photographers than it is to gain respect from a casual observer. This should always be in your mind as you are creating your photographs. You should be creating your photographs for the casual observer. To do that, you need to connect with them. One way to do that is to tell a simple story. This week’s featured photo, Lost Shoe by Christoph Hetzmannseder, tells such a simple story. It is for this reason that it will be respected by photographers and regulars alike.
Let’s face it, a photographer knows enough about your photo to know what went into the process. We know what process and what techniques were utilized. And we respect the effort that put into a shot. A regular – someone who is not a photographer – doesn’t understand the technique. Nor do they care. What they care about is whether or not the photo is interesting. Interest can be generated a number of ways. One such way is to create a simple story to tell. The key word here is simple.
I want you to imagine Lost Shoe without the shoe in the foreground (and pretend you didn’t know the photo’s title). The photo would still be strong and appealing to photographers. The use of depth of field is appropriate considering the gravel path. The softened focus on the legs, the use of color and of course Christoph’s choice of framing, presents a strong composition. Photographers would certainly have respect for the effort that went into the shot, and it would be well received. But without the shoe – and without the title – there is less of an appeal to regulars. A regular might purchase this photo-sans-shoe on a greeting card, not in a frame. But we want them to purchase it for a frame, don’t we?
By introducing the shoe and making it the focus of the shot, Christoph has set the stage for a simple story. Observe Lost Shoe from a regular’s perspective, put your photography knowledge aside and look at the pure aesthetics of the shot. What do you feel? Do you feel frustration or disappointment in this photo? No. Despite the shoe being lost, the woman is clearly calm and relaxed. The story: The woman lost her shoe, and she doesn’t seem to be bothered at all. You can’t get any simpler than that. The result is a photograph that can be appreciated both by photographers and regulars.
You can view more of Christoph Hetzmannseder‘s photographic works through his Flickr Photostream. His portfolio features a nice balance of experimental photos and photos featuring well-refined techniques and practices. A lot could be learned by following his contributions. Christoph also sells a portion of his works to be licensed through Getty Images.