Every photographer knows the feeling. You are sorting through your images after a trip looking for that one shot that had you excited when you tripped the shutter. And there it is and it still excites you. The color is right. The composition is the way you wanted it. You’re sure you have a winner.
That is the way I felt about the photograph I made in Logan Canyon last spring. We had spent the night in Bridger Campground in the lower canyon. It had rained off and on all night and was still overcast in the morning. As I sat drinking my first cup of coffee, I started looking around to see if there was a photograph to be made. I noticed the light sparkling on the wet trees and the subtle changes in color in the layers of leaves receding into the distance. I took my time, put the camera on the tripod and shot five different compositions.
When I selected a portfolio of images from the trip, I included one of the Logan Canyon trees. In fact, it was the first image that I printed and I was sure it fit with the rest of the portfolio.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was preparing for the portfolio reviews at the Palm Springs Photo Fest. I asked Barbara to give me her honest opinion and she suggested that I might think again about including that photograph. Being stubborn, I left it in.
Sure enough, the first reviewer (a magazine editor) picked out the Logan Canyon photo and set it aside with the comment that it didn’t fit with the rest of the work. So I left it out for the next three reviews, also with magazine editors.
My last review was with a museum director and I decided to put the print back in for his review. To my surprise and delight, he picked it out as one of his favorites.
What I have come to understand from this experience is that the context and background of the viewer influences his or her reaction to a photograph in unpredictable ways. That is why we value the opinions of photo editors and museum curators. But in the end, it is up to us as artists to define and defend our unique vision.