Today's acceptable photo quality

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by ianshalapata, May 14, 2009.

  1. It's just occured to me (so others have probably already noticed this) that there have been recent posts where p-netters have remarked about "inferior quality" photos being widely received by the general public as being at standard or otherwise acceptable. Shots that are out of focus, poorly composed, or with bad colour, are making their way onto the web and elsewhere at an alarming rate.
    With this in mind, there also have been photogs who are concerned about providing a customer with a cd of images because they then have no control over print quality and don't want to chance others seeing the poor photos and forever associating that less-than-standard quality with their name.
    My questions are, do you think that the general public are as descerning as we think, and would they actually black list a photographer because their friend printed some of their shots at Wal*Mart?
    Thanks for your time.
  2. The general public don't have a clue about "image quality". Image content is far more important to most people, and all you have to do to prove it is look at someone's vacation pictures.
    I'm not sure it's important. Content has always been more important than IQ, and I suspect it always will be for all but a very few who obsess about IQ on forums.
  3. It's not about people avoiding you because they don't like a poorly handled print. It's about them not seeking you out because they weren't amazed by a print.
  4. Larry has got it perfectly. Content is king to many MANY people. We obsess over stuff that 90% of the world could care less about.
    But the bottom line is that you have to know your market. You have a completely different set of things to worry about if you are selling limited edition art prints in a high end gallery versus selling landscapes at a craft fair.
  5. Obsess about image quality? How can anyone not obsess about image quality? If you do not take pride in what you do, no
    one else will. I hope that the majority of the people on this web site are here to uphold standards that are high. There will
    always be those people in every profession that are in it only for the money.

    I do not critique photographs for the sheer joy of it. It is done with the hope that it will provide information that
    photographers can use to improve their images and the way they see.

  6. To answer the OP, yes, people do recognize quality--when they see it. The difficulty is that good-enough looks pretty good by itself. The argument for quality comes when good-enough and quality are standing side by side.
  7. I shot a wedding with my Nikon Coolpix s10 for a couple friends. I took a handfull of shots and cropped, photoshopped out some distracting elements in one and other small enhancements. Gave them all the originals and burned a CD... no charge, no expectations etc.

    They used an original untouched photo for their thank-you letters. To me it was not as good "technically" but to them it obviously meant more because of the expressions on their faces as they said their wedding vows.

    THAT type of thing is "image quality" to most people, just as Larry and Josh alluded to.
  8. Well said L.J.!
  9. L.J. has it right. A "good" photo is one in which they look good. Generally, they won't care about the background, sharpness (unless it's really fuzzy) or white balance. But they will care if the photo does not represent the preconceived image of how they think they ought to look. But, the customer is always right.
  10. OK, as LJ and Phil allude, it's all in the "warm fuzzies" as opposed to technically proper. But if the customer is always right then why do so many photogs worry about the print quality and giving up a cd to the customer? As Mark indicates there are those out there who need to keep control of the entire process. Less to do with the photography and more to do with...?
  11. What exactly does one mean by photo or image quality?
    Are we talking about artistic qualities or technical qualities.
    Someone once said they would rather see a fuzzy picture with a sharp concept than a sharp picture with a fuzzy concept.
  12. It's like everything else in life -- the General Public is rather clueless and lowest common denominator oriented.
    For example, in USA, beer -- despite their obvious advantages in all categories, top regional microbrews have at most 5% of the market while Budweiser, Heineken, Beck's, Coors, and Millers still have the rest.
    Or, McDonalds -- still the #1 restaurant on quantity in USA.
    DSLRs -- cheap plastic kit lenses probably outsell "real" lenses by 10 to 1.
  13. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    When someone shows you an underexposed, poorly lit, badly composed, poorly focused picture of their child and says, "Isn't this a great photo?" What they really mean is, "isn't my child cute!?" If you point out that the picture is underexposed, poorly lit, badly composed and poorly focused, they will stalk off muttering, "Hmpf ! Well, what does that jerk know?"
  14. Don't freak, Mark. A statement about the reality of consumerism and the psychological state of the masses is not an abandonment of quality, just a statement of fact.
    Ken is onto the much larger problem of quality (is it time to read Pirsig again?) and our understanding of it in all aspects of our lives, and, of course, photography is subject to the same psychological forces. McDonalds ....... now there is an example! If we can't comprehend the concept of good and bad food, what hope is there for something as aesthetically obtuse as photography?
  15. Yes James, so right you are.
    I did a portrait session for a lady of her son and nephew. The two kids did not want to do well for me and made the session a real pain in the ars. They were like 2 and 5 years old. As I was showing them some of the shots on the camera LCD we passed one where the 2 year old just had the most perfect expression. They LOVED it. Problem was he would not sit still to save my life so that shot was backed focus as he rocked forward as I tripped the shutter. I mean his face was completely out of focus, I even zoomed in on the camera to show them (I had to tell them it was bad a shot because I knew they would be looking for it on the web site with their proofs).
    They did not care if it was out of focus, they loved it. In the end I did not give them the shot as a proof and basicly deleted it. They had plenty of other shots and I sold them a good number of them. But their love for the missed shot just proves that content rules over quality when it comes to the general public.
  16. Was wondering when we were going to get onto the subject of beer and junk food.
    Thanks, Ken.
    Kidding aside, I don't mind the obsessiveness that goes into attaining a great looking image, it's the results weighed against it that matters. The only way someone is going to come up with a unique look no one has seen before is to have an original vision to obsess over. Unfortunately there's quite a bit of obsessing over achieving a look that someone else has done before.
    Perception is all in the head anyway. Just hope it's not beer and junk food.
  17. First thing i do when my cousin sends me endless images of her kids is put them in Photoshop and send them back to her, she works for a Photographer too and the pictures are terrible. She always seems pleased that i do it, probably has a voodoo doll of me behind closed doors.
  18. (What Simon said.... LOL!)
    I bet she sends the entire 8MP image too... argh!
  19. So Simon....feeling any sharp pains in your side or burning sensation on your feet lately? :eek:)
  20. But their love for the missed shot just proves that content rules over quality when it comes to the general public.
    Hey Jason i found it.
  21. LOL! Priceless!
  22. It's like everything else in life -- the General Public is rather clueless and lowest common denominator oriented.​
    I'd apply that to most photographers, who are so obsessed with irrelevant minutiae they seem more like Asperger's Syndrome sufferers than anything else. They can't see content through digital noise, barely perceptible CA and corner sharpness and light falloff. They deafen themselves and each other with babble about HDR, Lightroom or the latest software.
    I put at least as much value in the impressions of ordinary people as in anything most photographers have to say. If my photos fail to communicate to non-photographers then nothing an "expert" has to say will make any difference.
  23. The average/ordinary person is what photography is for.

    So are automobiles, buildings, boxes of cereal...

    Yes, there is a small percentage of the population that will appreciate the finer points of anything, but it is the overall asthetics and/or functionality that will grab their attention first.
  24. I'm with Lex on this. Granted, most people (photogapher or not) aren't very good judges if they have an emotional attachment to the subject of the photo. Beyond that, though, "regular people" usually evaluate photos in a much-more sensible way than most photographers. Show a group of photos to a roomful of photographers, and two thirds of them will be judging the shots on how well they conform to the conventions they've learned or how well it matches the way they would have taken those shots.
  25. The average person is going to look at the photo, see it as it is, and then move on to the next image. In order for them to buy a print, they really have to be motivated or compelled by something.
    If the average person buys your photo, it's probably for residential, interior decoration. That's a tall order.
    That photo would have to be so good, it doesn't just stop the viewer. It has to get their attention and hold it. They will want to think about it for awhile. They may start to go away; they may notice that they feel they want to keep on looking. In order to get them to buy it, based on its appearance, it needs to look so good, that even though they didn't make the photo, they want it. They want to keep on looking at it. They want to take it home, hang it on the wall; put it in a place where they will see it everyday. They want to make looking at that image a more-or-less permanent part of their daily lives. Is your photo that good?
    Even within the household of the photographer himself, the image might not even get off of the laptop. It depends; but, the viewer will need to feel like that image should be a part of their daily lives if they are going to bring it home to their residence. On top of that, the photographer is going to bill them for the image, at a somewhat steep price. The paper with the image on it, the print itself, could easily go for around $100.
    So, they're not going to be just casual observers who think the photo looks nice. They're going to have to want it. And they'll go through all of that stuff to have the photo around, for years, possibly for the rest of their lives, or at least long enough for that image to be a permanent part of their home. That's the tall order of individual print retail sales.
    The printer kiosk or big box store drop-off point is a red herring. The only way to meet the sales criteria is with a good photo; a good photo that the customer knows they'll want to buy and keep and have in their home.
  26. John,
    Or they will be like my wife and go to a home decor store and pick out the one that has the right colors to match the furniture....that grips me to no end!
  27. So what I'm reading is that there should be no problem with providing a cd of images to a customer as long as the photog ensures that the images are the best they can produce. The customer can print (under license) and the reulting prints shouldn't negatively affect attracting future customers.
  28. The customer can print (under license) and the reulting prints shouldn't negatively affect attracting future customers.​
    I would be more concerned that your images be reproduced with the highest quality intended when the reproductions are seen by the most people. This usually would fall under the catagory of mass production organizations like media outlets, fine art photography publications, etc.
    If it's just regular folks, a reasonable facsimile should suffice.
  29. I did at one time provide a CD to my customers, with warning that if they used a “one hour” lab the results would not be as they should. I carried around samples of images to show them the difference in quality from “those” labs and proper professional labs.
    I stopped doing it mostly because I could not sell a print to save my life. It was clear that no matter what I said to them to show the difference, they went to who knows where to get prints and most likely made copies to pass around to family and such.
    Since I stopped giving them CDs, my print sells are doing fairly well now. Imagine that….
    I still do provide a CD of “Proof” size/quality images with no rights to print on their own. I also offer to sell them a complete CD of high res images for a price.
    So, will it hurt your ability to book future clients due to bad prints made by past clients? I think that is hard to answer and I guess it would be possible if the right/wrong person came along, but I would not think it will kill your business. But from my standpoint, I want to control every aspect of the process to create the images I give my customers. I do, however depend on a lab to make my prints, but I get them first and proof them before sending on to the customer.
    Bottom line for is that I am a part timer and so I would like to hear form the real pros on this as well.
  30. If someone showed me work from a pro, that they printed them self at wallyworld, i would not go to the photographer for work.
  31. It's not about people avoiding you because they don't like a poorly handled print. It's about them not seeking you out because they weren't amazed by a print.​
    Although if you hadn't given the client a CD, then that print they made at Walmart wouldn't exist and therefore your chance of impressing the friend would be zero which is worse than very low in my book!
  32. or you could have just given the client a well done print in the first place.

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