I once did a workshop with Galen Rowell. During one of the sessions, he was projecting slides of his images. One particularly striking image came up and the group did a collective Oooh. Galen stopped and said that’s what he was striving for in his images; to make us go Oooh.

I too like it when people oooh over my images, however I wonder if we’re going overboard. More and more of the nature images that I see online seem to be desperately pushing for that oooh. Whether it’s over-saturated sunsets, too many sun-stars, wider and wider-angled views or adding romantic blur overlays to images, it seems to me that people are just taking the same image and pushing the technique more and more to produce a harder and harder to reach emotional reaction. It feels similar to overacting in a movie.

On the other side, out of the nature photography realm, we have “art photography”; and instead of ooohs, we get yawns.

I’m looking for a middle way. I want to see images that move you on first sight and continue to move you. I want a photograph that still surprises me after I’m used to the color and shape and angles. I want to still be moved after the ooohs die down. In other words I want a photograph that you can have a relationship with like you have with a long-term partner.

I have a 24×30 inch print of the above photo on my wall. Occasionally it grabs my attention and I marvel how much I still like it. Hopefully some of my images will do the same for you, or if not my images, someone else’s.

~ by danbaumbach on April 17, 2009.

4 Responses to “OOOH!”

  1. Hi Dan: Re: “relationship” with a photograph or print: I’m with you 1000%. I’d much rather have someone quietly contemplate my photograph day after day – seeing new and interesting things each time – than elicit an expected OOH or WOW only to forget about it the following day.

    This is what I love about good black and white photography. With some exceptions, the gimmicks are stripped away and the photograph stands naked. A blazing sunset or sunstar will rarely prove timeless (sort of like popular music and films :)).

  2. Well said Dan!
    The worst part in this race to the Ooohs, is that we can even lose the fun in photography. It all becomes a race, a competition, you start getting away more and more from what you like to shoot in the first place. In the end not only do you not get ooohs from other people, but you may even stop wowing yourself, and that’s a shame. It would be much wiser to start shooting from the heart, please yourself, the rest will follow naturally.

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