"Impact", an overused concept?

Started Jun 24, 2013 | Discussions thread
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M. Mitchell
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"Impact", an overused concept?
Jun 24, 2013

Almost always when there is a discussion of what makes an effective photograph, one of the first characteristics said to be required is that it should get your immediate attention, that it should have "impact." To further this purpose, we use the rule of thirds, we use a narrow depth of field and we use imaginary lines to direct our vision to the primary subject of the photograph.This is effective for most professional photographers, because they are engaged in promoting a person,  product or activity.

But should this be an unbreakable rule for all photographs? Why must a photograph grasp your immediate attention or why can't it  encompass a myriad of activities or require careful study of every detail to be considered a good photograph?

I find most of the work shown at shows and exhibits to be  boring. After examining them for 15 seconds, there is little more to be seen. But some so called snapshots can be very interesting. Avoiding the rule of impact, they can be carefully examined inch by inch to reveal details of the photographer's experience that not even she was consciously aware of. Or they can show the photographer's intent to depict the time and place of a photograph. And as importantly, they can take on different meaning as different details are noticed. In this way a photograph becomes a living evolving thing which engages our attention over an extended period of time.

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