That’s a quote from a book I’m currently reading, The Music Lesson – A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music, by bassist Victor Wooten. Great bass player and great book, I can’t recommend it enough.
Victor did write that in his book, and he is right. In music, the number one element I would always tell students to focus on, was their feel, their groove. It’s not that everything else; tone; pitch; the right note; etc… isn’t important, but feel tops them all. For me, it’s the same with photography.
The Most Important Element of a Photograph
The feel of the photograph, the emotional impact, the vibe of the photograph is the most important element of an image to me. Now there are exceptions to this, say for example, reportage, where you’re just trying to capture the facts of a news story. Feel is still great, but sometimes you just need to make sure you captured the facts.
But other than that, I stand by my statement; feel is the most important part of a photograph. You can have a shot of the most beautiful woman or amazing landscape; but if it doesn’t project a feel, a vibe; if it doesn’t emotionally connect with the viewer, then it doesn’t matter how great the focus is; or how well lit it is; or how perfect the skin tones or colors are.
It’s cool if the scene is well lit; or in focus (sometimes not), etc… but don’t make those elements the priority. Sure, always do your best, but don’t lose the feel of the scene, of the photograph by concentrating to much on the technical elements of the shot.
Feel Over Technique
The photos I’ve included in this post are examples of this concept. These were both taken with the Summicron 50mm lens that I’ve talked about recently that was having some focusing issues. The photo of Yuli is not sharp… but I love it. I think in this particular situation the soft focus actually adds to the feel of the photograph. Happy accident.
The photo of Jonny shows the furthest eye in focus (kind of), not the closest one. Who cares. I love it. I love the feel of this photograph.
Never Lose the Feel of the Photo By Concentrating on the Technical
Okay, I’ll wrap this up, keep it short. It’s a simple but important concept. What do you guys and gals think about this?
I recommend Victor’s book, especially if your a musician, but really it kind of just applies to life in general; especially photography. Probably one of my favorite books I’ve ever read that didn’t have any photos in it. 😉