BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
joy e. GLENN
 

single most thing..


What was the single most thing that changed your photography from just ok to wow, Im getting some great shots...I am curious, I know it is a combination of stuff, but if you had to name one thing,,,what would it be? JOY


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9/9/2006 10:24:55 AM

 
Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
wildlifetrailphotography.com
  I'm still looking for the WOW in my photos. I hope someone has a good answer for this.


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9/9/2006 11:05:12 AM

 
anonymous A.    My first reaction was "getting criticsm from people whose work is better than mine" but then I realised it was actually LISTENING to criticism, whether they were better photographers or not.

That suggests you have got to put you photos up where people can see them and invite criricism; and avoid giving as much weight to the friendly praise as you do to the less pleasant critique, even if it isn't the majority opinion.


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9/9/2006 12:01:12 PM

 
Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
wildlifetrailphotography.com
  Joy,

I agree with David. I noticed you don't have many photos in your gallery. I think the first step is to get them out where they can be seen. Get some reations from others. You may have wows and don't know it. This site is a great place to learn and exchange ideas. Remember, what is wow to one person may not be wow to another. The most important wow to me is when I'm out on a wilderness hike taking the photos. If anyone should happen to think the finished photo is wow, then that is just icing on the cake.


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9/9/2006 12:22:19 PM

 
Willie  L
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/28/2006
  PHOTOSHOP


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9/9/2006 12:28:00 PM

 
Debbie Del Tejo
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/30/2005
  The digital age did it for me!!! When I was shooting film and I could not manipulate and do WHAT I WANTED to the photos, sometimes that was upsetting to me. I paid a lot of money to my air brush artist (WHO BTW, HAD TO CHANGE CAREER)so he could touch up my photos if the client wanted retouching. Now, I can do what I want,when I want and where I want to any of my work. I love being able to produce my own work from start to finish. I thought I had passion before with film,you should see me now.....and that is when my work became MY OWN WOW!!!!


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9/9/2006 2:02:44 PM

 
Thomas    PRACTICE to develop a creative vision!


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9/9/2006 2:16:26 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  The few of my images that I feel have at least something of a WOW factor are those that capture something I felt passionate about at the time I was making the image. As much as I like Photoshop and as much as I would like to know how to use it more efficiently, I find that the images I really like have not been manipulated very much. If I had to name one factor for creating WOW images I would have to say passion. I have a growing passion for nature and wildlife and find that I am the happiest when I am outdoors trying to photograph an amazing landscape; animal; bird or event such as moon rise or sun rise or something of that type. It is then that the camera becomes almost an extension of the passion I am feeling and this seems to be when I create the best image. I have taken 6 BP classes and while each one was terrific and while I plan to take more, I still come back to finding my own passion. Knowledge is essential (and I still need to learn so much it can feel overwhelming at times!) but, if you don’t have a passion for your subject area I am not sure how you end up with great images.


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9/9/2006 4:13:24 PM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  I was so fortunate to meet a Portrait Photographer who IS simply amazing!
his ease with subjects and talent with light and posing was truly something to watch.
I got to work with him for quite sometime before he retired .
kept my mouth shut , watched and listened to EVERY thing he said.
not only did I want to work as he did, but teach as he did.
In hopes that I would give back to this profession as he did.
I owe him everything!


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9/9/2006 4:42:38 PM

 
Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/15/2004
  I agree with David Rich, and after 25 yrs of shooting I am still striving for consistant WOW


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9/9/2006 6:00:12 PM

 
Sherry S. Boles
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2005
  I don't know about getting to WOW but "STUDY THE WINNERS" was the advice that really helped me improve.


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9/9/2006 6:22:28 PM

 
Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
wildlifetrailphotography.com
  Irene,

Well said Irene. I agree, the best shots I have are from doing what I am passionate about. Many of these are wows to me even if they are not wows to anyone else.


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9/9/2006 7:13:25 PM

 
dave    Me, I wanted to be the best I could.


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9/9/2006 8:13:22 PM

 
Dot K.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/11/2006
  I'm still working to improve my photography, but the number one thing that truly helped me improve from where I was when I started out would have to be getting some good critique from others on my work.


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9/9/2006 8:19:37 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  I'm also still working on improving, but I've found that learning composition and lighting and paying attention to others' critiques really changed my images from so-so to pretty good.

Ariel
www.scrattyphotography.com


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9/9/2006 8:50:04 PM

 
Debbie Del Tejo
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/30/2005
  Joy, thank you for asking a very interesting question. It has been fun and a learning experience to read the various answers. Sometimes I see the same questions being asked over and over and this one was truly refreshing and educational and I just want to thank you for it.


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9/9/2006 11:52:06 PM

 
Judyann Plante
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2005
  I am still learning and while classes and photoshop have been a help, I would have to say that the more I learn about lighting, the more I see an improvement in my photos.


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9/10/2006 5:52:38 AM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Bryan really is a terrific instructor! I took his class when he was teaching here and learned a tremendous amount. The other instructors that really helped me improve were Kerry Drager – who is patient, challenging and very inspiring; Brenda Tharp who demands the best from her students and gives you the tools to be your best – her critiques are very detailed and she is good at pushing you past your self imposed boundaries. I just finished a class with Jennifer Wu and learned a great deal from her as well.

A word on my feeling about critiques: so many people post requests for critiques and then when you actually do critique their galleries they respond defensively wanting you to defend your critique. I think this might be at least part of the reason it can be really tough to get honest critiques. When I first started working full-time as a free lance writer I had a great editor tell me that I had to develop a thicker skin. I was convinced that my writing was great and that I knew how things needed to be said. Too often I took criticism personally thinking that the person offering critique was attacking me, rather than my work. I took that editor’s advice and over the past eighteen months or so I have seen my career really grow. I think that we all need to read critiques with an open mind – sure there are people who seem to take some thrill out of trashing our work and who have nothing to say constructively, but I really think that most people mean well. I usually read critiques with two questions at the fore-front: does the criticism seem honest and meaningful and does the criticism resonate for me. I love it when I can see the person own work – it does provide some measure of understanding their own level of knowledge – but, even when this is not possible I try to accept what I think seems reasonable and simply throw away the parts that seem nasty or too harsh.

Keep shooting and find your passion!


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9/10/2006 5:53:35 AM

 
Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/19/2006
  I agree with Irene. I'm learning more and more PS. I have a lot of personal stuff that I've done, which I haven't posted on BP, that is pretty good.
But for me, the WOW is still in what I capture on camera and not so much what I do to manipulate an image.
There is very little rework in my waterfall images from Watkins Glen, but for me, that is WOW! The vertical pan prints I have hanging on my wall are more WOW than those on the site.
My pics may not be WOW to a lot of people. But when I capture a picture of something, and the picture really reflects the subject, the mood and the emotion that stirred me to take the shot in the first place. For me, that's the WOW!


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9/10/2006 6:52:20 AM

 
Laura E. OConnor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/12/2005
  I still have yet to really get that WOW shot I'm looking for, always being my own worst critic. BUT... I think my "Ah Ha" moment was just suddenly deciding, while biting my nails and nervous twich, to put myself "out there" here on BP and opening my work up to critique and really taking it all in when offered (and ignoring the crap that goes on whether we want it to or not.) NOT taking it personally (critiques are of the work, not ourselves), and learning even the smallest lesson from everything I do, every picture I take and just wanting to learn EVERYHTING. Also, the knowledge that I have to take baby steps, even if at a run, they have to be small steps. You can't learn everything at once or you'll go completely mad! LOL! BUT... still looking for those really consistent WOW shots that will take my work over the top.

Great thread!!! Keep it going!


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9/10/2006 7:38:24 AM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Getting Paid!


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9/11/2006 5:49:24 PM

 
Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
wildlifetrailphotography.com
  I like Pete's choice, although I have not run across that yet either. If I do it will certainly be a WOW and a HOT DANG!!!


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9/11/2006 6:04:42 PM

 
Jason R. Fortenbacher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/11/2006
  The thing that changed my photography was EQUIPMENT! For the lat four years I was shooting film with an ancient Rebel and lo-quality lenses.

In the last five months I've completely upgraded and thanks to Digital, I have shot more than 16,000 pics which GREATLY accelerated my learning. Now that I have the ability to reach out to my subject (aircraft in flight) and take as many pictures as I want, without having to pay for them, has made a day/night difference in my end results.


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9/12/2006 12:59:25 AM

 
Jagadeesh Andrew Owens   My photos that have that wow factor are the ones that I shot while I was naked. Only kidding. I find, for me, that the wow comes into play when I've captured a shot where the light, composition, clarity, tone, and Most Importantly, MY artistic vision have all converged in that single photograph.


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9/12/2006 6:23:11 AM

 
Andy 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/28/2002
  The desire to learn the craft.

I was taking pictures at age 13 because I just have access to my dad's camera. Did not get a single picture that I wanted to frame and hang on my wall. Twenty something years later I decided to learn photography and I took the NYIP course. A year later I framed my first photo that I would like to look at it again and again.


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9/12/2006 6:52:52 AM

 
Jane M
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/30/2005
  There are some photos I've taken that have made me say "wow" when I've first viewed them and I'd say it was down to their sharp focus and the lighting. The lighting is the most important, it affects sharpness, contrast, colors and form.
I think good cropping of a photo is a much under-valued skill too, that can often transform a so-so good photo to a great one I've found. Cropping (rule of thirds, recognizing good comp) is probably what has transformed my photos the most from my early days.


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9/12/2006 7:37:49 AM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  I liked Willie's response: PHOTOSHOP! Good one Willie! I'm still wanting to learn how to take photos like Marc Adamus and Jay Patel. I've been told it's "when" you shoot that makes all the difference. I've been there at the "magic" hour and I still come home with disappointing images. I've tried split neutral density filters, Photoshop and everything I can think of. IF I ever learn how to take breathtaking scenics then my images will pack the "wow" factor as well. Until then...


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9/12/2006 8:48:22 AM

 
Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
wildlifetrailphotography.com
  Sharon,

I just checked out your gallery. I said WOW on every page.


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9/12/2006 1:48:39 PM

 
Debbie Del Tejo
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/30/2005
  I checked it out too Sharon.......WOW....hate to see what you will produce when you DO learn!!!!lol
WOW on every page!


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9/12/2006 1:59:45 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  I find it interesting, but not that surprising, that someone like Sharon – with a gallery full of contest finalists and winners would say that she doubts her own images of processing that elusive “WOW” factor. Sharon, your images are wonderful and I suspect that you have at least some idea of this. However, like almost all pros or aspiring pros you may see the faults that most others do not. Also, I suspect (and since all of this is speculation, feel free to correct me!) that you continually strive to better yourself and to produce even better images. This, to me, is what it means to feel passionate about what you do. You like your images, you may even love some of them and you are always pleased that someone else also likes your images. You enter contests and win or at least get to the finalist stage and feel “well, maybe I do have something here”, but you always want something more and you keep working to achieve it. I suppose that it comes down to that old truism: those who can – do; those who can’t –talk. Thankfully, most people here fall into the “do” category.



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9/12/2006 2:23:00 PM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Still searching for it, hope to never find it.


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9/12/2006 2:50:51 PM

 
Jane M
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/30/2005
  Are people just being too modest or do they never bring up one of their photos up in Photoshop for the first time and say "wow"? Or am I doomed to a lifetime of mediocrity and non-advancement because I sometimes do? :-) I think everyone who's half decent will occasionaly get a wowser!


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9/12/2006 3:35:12 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  Thanks for the kind words, Donald, Debbie and Irene! I'm not unhappy with most of my images, just completely frustrated that I can't take a pretty scenic. One of these days I'll figure it out.

Irene, a lot of what you said is true of me. I always strive for perfection. Maybe I fall short a lot of the time, but that's when it's time to try even harder. While finanlists and wins are fun they do not validate my photography for me. If I never win again I won't wonder if I'm suddenly not taking good photos. I'll just think it's not my turn anymore LOL.

Jane, I can honestly say that to me a photo doesn't have much "wow" if it hasn't been edited to some extent. Modesty aside I will say that after I'm done editing I will occasionally think "wow". I don't think I've ever taken a photo that I didn't feel could be improved or bumped up to "wow" by some basic editing. I get so frustrated with the purists that claim they don't edit. I could mention photographers who regularly pride themselves in mentioning their entries are "straight from the camera" and won't even clone out the dust spots from a dirty sensor. I'm afraid I don't see the value in that.


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9/12/2006 4:04:29 PM

 
Kay Beausoleil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2004
KayBeausoleilPhotography.com
  Oh, Jane, you're allowed to be proud of your own work and still be a good photographer!

For me, the Wow moments are less since digital because I've already seen the images in the camera and, when travelling, on my portable hard drive before bringing them into PS. Now it's "Ooooh, I hope that's what it really looks like when I get it into the computer!" But yes, I've still had some Wow moments. Oddly, they're often tied up with emotions I was feeling whan taking the image, so they may not be Wow to others. The one I cherish most is HERE, but it would take pages and pages to explain why.

Like you, I can't imagine not being happily surprised by my own stuff now and then; it's just that with digital, there's a mini-preview we didn't have with slides. And then, there are those discouraging uncreative days and weeks where I want to sell my equipment and take up stamp collecting ...


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9/12/2006 4:04:47 PM

 
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