Gotta Have It!

January 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
This week I would like to write about "Gotta Have It!" appeal. What is "Gotta Have It!" appeal? It is when you view a photograph and you say to your self "I Gotta Have It!", and you feel a very strong desire to purchase it. You "Gotta Have" that photograph.
 
Modern point-and-shoot digital cameras do a good job of letting almost anyone take photographs. I daresay that some people may think photographs taken with a point-and-shoot camera have "Gotta Have It!" appeal. I also daresay that around 1900, amateur photographers probably thought the same way when George Eastman created the first point-and-shoot film camera. His motto was "You take the pictures and we do the rest." The camera was mailed to a designated place for the film to be developed and prints to be made. The camera would be returned with a new role of film loaded into it. 
 
So what is the difference between taking a photograph, and creating photographs that have "Gotta Have It" appeal? Did you notice the subtle phrasing in the previous question? The key phases are "taking a photograph" and "creating photographs." Since memory cards for digital cameras are capable of holding Avagadro's Number of photographs, one or two photographs could have "Gotta Have It" appeal. But it's a game of chance. It's tantamount to what we call in the trade "Spray And Pray", i.e., if you take enough photographs, sooner or later you'll "get a good one." What separates the amateur from the professional is that the professional creates photographs with "Gotta Have It" appeal consistently rather than by chance. And to do such takes technical skill, subject composition knowledge, and often, patience. 
 
Let me show you what I mean. Below is a photograph that I took at a 4th of July fireworks display. There was a thunderstorm in a town about 20 miles from where I was, and I hoped I could get a lighting photograph in addition to the fireworks display. Waiting on Mother Nature required patience, and she rewarded me with a lightning bolt that went off at the same time as the fire works. 
 
Wintergreen Fireworks - 0059Wintergreen Fireworks - 0059
 
The above photograph shows what was captured by the camera. I submitted this photograph to the editor of Blue Ridge Life. He was ecstatic and published the photograph. 
 
But I realized the photograph had issues and did not have "Gotta Have It!" appeal. It contained too much dark sky and the lightning bolt was not as prominent as I wanted it to be. So I performed some photo editing and the below photograph was the result. I submitted it to the editor of Blue Ridge Life. This time he was really ecstatic, and, he published the photograph.
 
Wintergreen Fireworks - 0059-1Wintergreen Fireworks - 0059-1
 
But still, the photograph did not have "Gotta Have It!" appeal. The lightning bolt is on the left side of the photograph. Since our eyes view a photograph from left to right, two thirds of the photograph is wasted. I had to fix that. Below is the final result.
 
Wintergreen Fireworks - 0059-5Wintergreen Fireworks - 0059-5
 
Note that now you view the entire image from left to right. I submitted the above photograph in a Professional Photographers of America print competition. I competed with photographers from all over the country, and I scored well considering it was my first competition. Finally, this photograph has "Gotta Have It" appeal.
 
Let me show you another example. Below is a photograph of renowned cellist Tanya Anisimova that was taken during a live concert performance. I composed the photograph in my mind, waited until the right moment, and took the below photograph which displays what the camera captured. I got the composition I wanted, and her facial expression captures the intensity of her performance. But it does not have "Gotta Have It!" appeal. Why?
 
WPA Tanya Anisimova (Concert) - 024WPA Tanya Anisimova (Concert) - 024
 
 
First, there is a board going through her head. Since I photographed on location, I had no control over the lighting or the background.  In addition, the out of focus heads of people in the audience are a detraction. After performing some photo editing, I achieved the results shown below.
 
WPA Tanya Anisimova (Concert) - 024 - WMWPA Tanya Anisimova (Concert) - 024 - WM
 
Note that the black background hides the board going through her head and creates much more contrast. In combination with the removal of the detractive elements, the photograph now has "Gotta Have It!" appeal. Ms. Anisimova has used the above photograph several times in her concert promotions. By the way, if you ever have the chance to hear Ms. Anisimova perform, she is amazing.
 
So in closing, I hope I have been able to convey to you what "Gotta Have It" appeal is, and what comes out of the camera, more often than not, does not have it. Every time I hear the words "It's Good Enough" to describe a photograph, I get sick to my stomach. Sadly, most people think that "It's Good Enough" is the same as "Gotta Have It!" It definitely is not, and I hope I have been able to enlighten you accordingly.
 
My blog is longer than usual this week. Thank you for staying with me.
 
Until next time,
Paul
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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