Behind the Lens: Finding the right photo can take several swings and misses

I invited area photographers to submit images of autumn for a photo gallery this week, and it’s always fun to see what other people choose to photograph, what attracts their eye and how they determine what makes a successful photograph.

Here are a few questions I sometimes consider in making judgments about photographs: Is the photograph something no one has seen before, or is it a unique photograph of a common subject? Is it a well-composed and pleasing image? Does it communicate effectively?

Even if you answer yes to these questions, it doesn’t automatically make a photograph successful in someone else’s eye. A photograph you take may hold more meaning to you simply because you were there and were moved to photograph the subject. To you it is successful, and that’s a good thing.

For my job, I photograph subjects and events and then share those images with others. Success is achieved by taking many photographs and implementing visual techniques to produce creative images. Only a handful of photographs may be judged successful.

In baseball, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera won the American League batting title this year with a .330 average. That means Cabrera averaged about one hit every three times at bat. If photography had similar statistics for measuring success, my average for documenting something like the recent Zombie Walk would be around .050.

I took 380 photographs and selected only 19 for an online gallery. That’s a hit ratio of one successful photograph for every 20 frames snapped. In other words, if my Canon camera were a baseball bat, I’d be on the bench in the lowest of the minor leagues.

Your photography batting average might be much higher depending on what you value in your photographs. Heck, even my average goes way up when I take pictures around the house or on vacation. Just be thankful you don’t have to see all my misses, like at the Zombie Walk.

I had an excuse, though. It was a night game and the crowd was acting like a bunch of monsters.


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