Feedback. One of the great things about producing an image is gaining people's views.
Some of them will be helpful, some not so helpful, and some inspiring, but the one thing you can say for sure is that they will all be different and come from many different perspectives.
My image, "Street Tango", was taken in Helsinki during a holiday break and shows the intimate connection of two dancers performing in the streets. The streets were so busy, people going back and forth with many things on their minds. What to buy; what to eat; where to go, rush rush rush… and then these two dancers lost in their own world of music, rhythm and connection.
It was just a joy to watch, and if I hadn’t have had a boat to catch I would have been there all day watching them and taking their photos.
Wind on, get home… look at the images and there it is. That moment captured, the feeling I noticed and the joy I felt comes rushing back. And so the processing begins, “Street Tango” is born.
Technically there are flaws with the image but I like the feel. Can I correct them? Will it improve the image or ruin it? I keep any corrections to a minimum and decide to enter the result into my local photographic society’s opening night competition. This is judged by the Society’s members and I was hoping they would see beyond the flaws to see the connection and mood. They did – 1st place and happy I was.
Later on in the year I tweaked the image and resubmitted into the monthly competitions, as allowed by the rules. This time it would be judged by an external judge and he saw the connection, he saw the mood, he liked what he saw. But he couldn’t put aside the flaws. His technical eye was attracted to the weaknesses, not the strengths, so much so that it didn’t do well. He did however put forward suggestions for improvement for it to succeed in the competition environment.
Now, when placed on social media the image goes down well; enter it in front of an experienced judge and the response is less than positive. One can lift; the other can cause a little reflection. I guess the thing here is; what is your intended audience and the type of image you produce for that audience and the reaction you wish to receive from them? The old adage of, “you can’t please everyone” springs to mind.
A version of “Street Tango” was given to our local Mayor for a Christmas present, by her daughter. The Mayor had seen it at a local exhibition and had fallen in love with it, so much so her daughter had to do a little subterfuge to distract the Mayor from contacting me directly, so that it would be a surprise. I never got to hear of the Mayor’s reaction until early May when I just happened to be at the same event as them. Her daughter introduced me and I was not expecting the effusive reaction one bit.
It was that reaction that feeds my soul and why I strive to be a photographer. Not to win prizes, although I will continue to enter competition and enjoy it if I do well, but to the see the reaction on the faces of the people who want my work, or who ask me to take their image. It is, to give a quote, “Priceless.”