How do you add PIZZAZ to your photos?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by IloveTLRs, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

    Messages:
    1,117
    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    So the other day I was preparing some photos to use in class (not photo related). Some coworkers were looking over my shoulder and said "Hmmm, those are nice" and "Your photos have a very calm quality to them". I've gotten several comments like that so it would seem in essence, that my photos appeal to people that are not at all interested in photography. I honestly have no idea whether that it is a Good Thing or not.

    Having people say "Oh, that would make a nice postcard" has actually gotten me down. I could be over-thinking things here, but to me "Hmmm those are nice" means = :sleeping: Indeed I've been going over photos I've taken in the past few months and I feel that many of them lack a certain oomph.

    So how does one go about adding zing to their photos? Move in closer? Farther away? Change focal lengths? Get down lower/higher?

    Any thoughts/insight in appreciated :smile:
     
  2. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2005
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Are you saying that you're considering changing your style because some people have said they like what you make?
     
  3. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I'm happy you have this thought. I constantly ask the same thing. It moves me to look at things, always wondering if I did this or that my pictures would tell a better story. I'll never get to the point where I can say, I've hit the best I can do target, because if that ever happens I will move the bar further up and work on getting better than the best.

    I did an engagement photo shoot yesterday evening. Client loves the photographs. I look to see how I can do better the next time.

    I find that's exciting.
     
  4. mabman

    mabman Member

    Messages:
    830
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2007
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Nothing wrong with questioning yourself to make better art. I haven't shot anything worthwhile with it yet, but I do find that shooting wider than "standard" forces you to think differently, so I sometimes go for a walk with a 28mm lens (on 35mm) instead of my usual 50mm or longer. Also, I find shooting a 6x6 camera and composing square images helps to "think different", if you're not doing that already (I'm assuming if you do, in fact, LoveTLRs that you shoot with them as well :smile:

    That said, if someone told me "That would make a nice postcard", I would be inclined to test that theory and make up a few - first, to see if it still looks good in that size/dimensions, and secondly to show to a gallery/retail owners in touristy locations to see if I could make a few bucks for more photography :smile:
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,814
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For the last year or so I've become involved with the local photo club. There are quite a few good photographers there, even if not many users of film.

    There is a fair balance between how-to sessions, critiques from guest judges, and competitions.

    It is clear to me though that "Pizzaz" is given great weight there when photographs are considered. The shots that really jump out and grab you are almost inevitably the favourite ones.

    I don't tend to shoot for "Pizzaz". I prefer something that is both interesting, and likely to grow upon you over time. So for that reason, my most favourite work is unlikely to win top (or maybe any) prizes there.

    I have however found it useful to participate in the competitions, because it has given me the chance to try different things, with a different goal in mind. It is sort of a "stretching" exercise, and I am enjoying it.

    I also find it interesting that some of the photographers their whose work I find most interesting agree with me - the work they show there is work they like, but isn't necessarily the work they would put up on their own walls.

    So in my mind "Pizzaz" is just one characteristic which you may or may not want to include in your photographs.
     
  6. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,593
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can add contrast or "snap" by using Potassium Ferricyanide to make the whites whiter.

    Steve
     
  7. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yo dawg, I can put Pizzaz in any of my shots! I order a couple from Domino's and throw 'em in there! :D
     
  8. jmcd

    jmcd Member

    Messages:
    715
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    It's great that others have liked your photos so much that they have made a point of saying so—really, that is a very good thing.

    But it should not influence what you think of your photos.
     
  9. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

    Messages:
    1,117
    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    Thank you for all the replies - lots of interesting points and insight here

    It sounds dumb, but yes. I'm not 100% satisfied with photos that are "nice"; I would rather have people think "WOW, that is fantastic". I spend a lot of time on Flickr (uploading & looking) - I've seen so many amazing photos (film, naturally) that I look up to. I can't help sometimes thinking "Why can't I take photos like that?" or "Why can't I see things like that?" Sometimes it's a great motivator, sometimes it's discouraging.

    Mmm, I wish I could convince myself of that sometimes.

    Incidentally, below I've attached two of the "Hmm, those are nice" photos I was talking about :pouty: In class we were talking about our travels, and I noticed very quickly how my photos and those of my two co-workers were different. They had photos of themselves posing with people and at famous places. Mine are mostly panoramic vistas and places, but none of myself.
     

    Attached Files:

    • 1.jpg
      1.jpg
      File size:
      167.7 KB
      Views:
      57
    • 2.jpg
      2.jpg
      File size:
      103 KB
      Views:
      53
  10. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    The things I try to observe before taking any photographs are:

    What is it? Why am I looking at it? Why put it into a photograph?
    AND: KEEP IT SIMPLE!
     
  11. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,491
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Kyoto, Japan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nick,

    I have a lot of those kinds of pictures too. Mostly when I first lived in Japan and was discovering photography and slide film all at the same time, and having grand illusions of becoming a National Geographic photographer. :wink: When I went back to Canada and did a darkroom course at a local university, my teacher would often ask me -- What's this picture of? What's your focus? What are you trying to say? Of course, this was always in black and white, but he wanted to know for a few reasons -- one, so he knew how to help us make our darkroom prints better, but mostly because he wanted us to be able to justify why we were spending so much time working on a picture that may not have been that interesting to begin with. After that, when I took photos, I would often ask myself "what am I taking a picture of?" If I didn't know, or it took too long to answer I usually didn't take the picture (although of course, vistas and places are worthwhile photos to take, but they're not the only thing). I think, as a result, my photos have gotten better (at least too my eyes) -- not so many pretty postcard shots (although I still like and shoot those too), and perhaps more of a personal style. Interestingly enough, I used to get lots of "nice" comments on my pictures in the past, but not so much anymore (from family and friends) and for some strange reason that makes me feel better now too!

    I also think looking at other photographers' work you admire and asking yourself what it is that you like about their photographs may help in giving you a particular focus when you take photographs yourself (although whether that adds 'pizzaz' is up to you). Anyway, just some ideas.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2010
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,814
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One of the reasons I take photographs is that photography is a method of communication. If I want to be effective in that method, it behoves me to pay attention to how others react to what I do.

    So to that extent I think it is helpful to know what others think about what I do, and it isn't inappropriate to have that influence what I think.
     
  13. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

    Messages:
    463
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Location:
    Waltershause
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, not to put a too fine point to it, but what you're charging after is more of a cliché.
    If you get this "nice" reaction from people for your landscape photos it's because they satisfy their expectations which other photographers and the media (N.G., nature series on TV and so on) have shaped. Their own holiday photos can't satisfy this expectation because they're confused about their purpose and make journal photos instead of landscape photos. One photo can't be good in both categories!
    Anyway, If you want to get a "WOW, that is fantastic" reaction from this clientele, you'll need to set dial to eleven, so to speak. Up the saturation, include picturesque elements, take sunset shots. Avoid being subtle.
    Not my cup of tea, obviously. I had thought that with PIZZAZ you meant elements of photos that speak to your viewers, that shake them up and provoke a reaction. The key here is content. Show something that is controversial or out of it's usual context. Something unexpected, looking gross and beautiful at the same time.
    Of course, you're going to get as many rejections as accolades. That's the nature of things.
     
  14. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,593
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    No necessarily so. It can mean adding a little more impact to the print. Ansel Adams did this, so when he did it would you say that what he did was trite or done to "shake them up and provoke a reaction"? He is not the only one that did that, just one example. Are you are injecting you own agenda it the thread?

    Steve
     
  15. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

    Messages:
    463
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Location:
    Waltershause
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd call it a point of view instead of an agenda.
    Interesting point you raise about A.A.. He was original at his time, certainly not trite. And he was a great teacher, you still can learn excellent b&w technique from him today.
    I don't think he was out to shake things up and the reaction he continues to provoke in viewers of his works is awe in front of the wonders of nature and an understanding that it needs to be preserved. He did this very well, thus abolishing the need to repeat it in his way. Trying to replicate his photos, one would be unoriginal and ill-advised today. But of course it can and will be done and might lead to personal satisfaction and commercial success.
    No one needs my permission to choose either way.
     
  16. Nikanon

    Nikanon Member

    Messages:
    370
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Why do you care what anyone else has to say or think about your images? I find one of the differences in many film and digital shooters is that the film shooters shoot entirely for themselves while digital shooters are shooting to impress people. Do you do photography for the sake of others, or do you do it because it is your passion? There is nothing that is any more of yourself that can come from any one of us. Maybe you need to stop thinking of your viewer and start thinking for your own values in your images, and start achieving them.

    Nikanon
     
  17. codester

    codester Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Seeing photographically is about asking questions. The first question should be what attracts me to this scene enough to want me to photograph it? What is the main element of the scene that makes me want to photograph it? How do I make the main element the main element in my photograph with the tools and techniques at my disposal? Is this the only way of seeing this scene? Is there a better angle or approach? And because we all take pictures to communicate: will anyone else care or get the intent of what I am photographing?
    These are the major elements of my though process as I'm making photographs. Of course, all kinds of small technical details are working away in the background (which comes through much practice to remove from the foreground of thought).
    I don't agree with the school of thought that everyone be damned because I shoot for myself and if nobody else appreciates my photos than too bad. We are visual communicators and if nobody is looking at our photographs than what is the purpose of continuing photography. This doesn't mean you have to be hanging in MOMA. Having family and friends appreciate your photography may be enough. For others, MOMA is enough.
    What I think Nikanon is eluding to is integrity. We shouldn't be chasing down every fade (hello HDR) because we think it will get us noticed. But critically listening to viewers as you are doing is needed in order to grow and become a better communicator.
     
  18. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

    Messages:
    683
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    Stockholm, S
    Shooter:
    35mm
    You are dissatisfied with the photos you are making today. This is good for you, because it gives you desire and energy to practice, practice and practice.

    Also, follow the above advice, which is excellent.
     
  19. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,745
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When I was a member of a camera club, I learned from a PSA judge that making a great photo is as simple as having someone wearing a red jacket stand in the background. This is the same judge who could not understand why a black and white slide had no color.

    Don't let others dictate your view of your own work. Unless, of course, you are working for a commercial client.
    juan
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,593
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My experience with PSA judges was that I knew more then they did when I was still using a Kodak Hawkeye Brownie!
     
  21. batwister

    batwister Member

    Messages:
    919
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You don't like your photos being dubbed as postcard worthy, so I'm guessing you consider photography an art form. Good start.
    I really hope this doesn't seem harsh, but the photos you've attached are closer to holiday snapshots than fine art. I think you really need to get some photography books and study photographs and think more intelligently about composition and lighting. My photographs aren't brilliant, mediocre at best, but spending as much (if not more) time looking at images and figuring out why they work, why they grab my attention, why they make me think, I'm taking much better photographs than I would if I shot more than I studied. The images you've attached are very... illustrative, if that's a word to use. They don't convey anything, they have no mood, drama, mystery, subtlety or real beauty even though I'm sure these are gorgeous locations.

    You could start by going out and composing 80/20 and using the rule of thirds. As simple as that stuff is, you'll soon discover how powerful thoughtful composition is, but think about light first and foremost.
     
  22. batwister

    batwister Member

    Messages:
    919
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Also, what the hell is 'PIZZAS'?
     
  23. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

    Messages:
    1,873
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    [​IMG]
    http://www.whattheduck.net/strip/761

    Learn editing out your crap photos. Try out different styles so you can find your own. And sometimes the best form of photography involves waiting for the right moment and involves NOT taking a picture. That's editing too.

    and I'm all out of clichés. Good Luck.
     
  24. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,205
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's a round piece of flat bread with toppings on it, such as parma ham, prosciutto, olives, tomato sauce, basil, olive oil, mozzarella di bufala, oregano, etc. Very tasty... :tongue:

    Pizazz, on the other hand, can be added by experimentation, thinking outside the box, trying new things, pushing limits, exceeding limits, learning from it, and then applying it.
    Express what's within you. Mood. What do you like, (and be honest about that one)?

    - Thomas
     
  25. batwister

    batwister Member

    Messages:
    919
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Ah, 'pee-zazz'. What an odd word that is, even when spelt right.