It’s been right there in front of me, all along – and I think I finally got the message. As they say: Keep it Simple, Stupid.
The most successful photos are the ones that are the easiest for people’s brains to process.(That’s probably true of blog posts, too.)
If the scene is noisy, allow the viewer to immediately focus on the subject. And unless you’re deliberately creating an abstract, make the subject immediately identifiable. (And an abstract should be immediately identifiable as an abstract.)
Here’s the long winded explanation of how I came to this conclusion. At this point, your eyes may glaze over, but that’s OK – no need to read – I’ve already made my point. 🙂
I was down at the park by the lake in the late evening. The sun was low and the light was warm. I noticed, as I’ve noticed before, the wonderful scene before me: the inlet stretching on into the distance, the bridge where people were walking and running, and the college up on the hill, overlooking the scene. And I realized: this was all too much to capture in one shot. The buildings would look tiny if I included the bridge; everything would be out of proportion, and the viewer would be confused.
I’ve seen beautiful landscapes that contained significant amounts of detail, but that didn’t necessarily make them confusing to look at. Rather, the simple face of the picture invited the viewer to come in and look around at his or her leisure.
The sheer amount of information that people are bombarded with every day causes them to ignore the things that they can’t grasp right away. So my goal will be to provide pictures that will help people rest their minds, not to cause them more confusion.