Do Ya Like That Artsy Stuff?

One of the interesting things for me along my photographic journey has been the way that I’ve grown to love some of the artistic styles I’ve been exposed to during these past few years.  Yet the beauty of the art, as we know, often lies in the eyes of the beholder. And what happens when your client doesn’t dig your artistic vision? Or worse yet, sees your vision as a technical flaw? That can be an interesting situation.

It wasn’t that long ago that I could show a photo like this to my AdoringHusband:

And have him say, “Why isn’t she centered?”

He doesn’t say that anymore.  😀

But even today, I can show him an image I love, like this one:

and have him say, “But I can’t see her face!” I then I try to explain that I was going for something different, yadda, yadda. It soon becomes like the old adage you hear about telling jokes: if you have to explain it after you’re done, then it just wasn’t funny. If I need to explain what I was going for in the image, then either I didn’t succeed, or I just didn’t succeed with my husband.

Yet it brings us back to the point about clients. There was a great discussion on a photography board today about how your artsy style might not be liked or appreciated by the client. In the example given, a photographer shot a wedding. In addition to the standard shots, she captured one that was backlit and had sunflare and haze. It was lovely and technically perfect. Yet some acquaintance on her blog commented, “how can you show such an image on your blog?! It’s overexposed!

Now there was a beautiful and stylistically perfect image being thought of as being a bad shot. Ouch!  😥

This type of comment/attitude is definitely in my mind as I work to refine my style. I didn’t appreciate sunflare, hazy and backlit shots until I got more proficient in taking them (and it is tricky, indeed) and recognized the ethereal, airy quality they possess. Yet again, I am concerned about a client thinking, why does she have this hazy shot in my gallery?! That should have been one of the rejects!

During this phase, I’ve been offering both the “hazy/backlit” and the “normal” versions of some images.


No haze:


No haze:

I can recognize and appreciate both versions, though I am starting to lean toward haze and backlight when the light is glorious and yummy like it was in the shoot above. Yet I wouldn’t want those tykes’ parents to look at the hazy shots and say, WTH was she thinking? Doesn’t she know how to take a sharp picture?

I’m getting to become more comfortable with my style, but I know that some people might be left scratching their heads…like my dear husband who looked at my silhouettes and said, “Well isn’t she a bit underexposed in these?”

“Yes, my sweetie, deliberately.”

“Oh,” he began, “I guess I don’t get it.”

You just gotta love him.  😉

  • Tara - I’m a little torn. If I’m paying for a professional to take pictures for me I think I lean towards wanting a very clear and bright picture where I can see the details of my kids faces to remember for all eternity. 🙂 But on the other hand….for decorative and artistic purposes I like the hazy type images as well. However, there are many other artistic styles I like over haze. It usually does leave me thinking “what?” And silhouette type photos, I wouldn’t like to get from a photographer I don’t think because I almost feel like I could do that myself. So much to think about Liana….you’re doing a great job! And wow..your website is amazing!!!ReplyCancel

    • Liana - Tara, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think that at this stage as I’m finding my style, it’s important for me to show both versions of a photo (and in some cases there are 3 versions including the black & white. But eventually when I find my approach, I wonder whether people who like haze or whatever thing I’m into will be the ones who self-select me and others who find my portfolio not a good match for what they like, would not choose me to be their photographer. But this does beg an interesting question. Does one choose a photographer based on the style in his/her portfolio or does one see the photographer as being hired to produce YOUR style, whether or not it is aligned with his/her style? Very interesting questions, indeed.

      And thanks for the compliments on my work and the site. I’m coming along pretty well, I think!ReplyCancel

  • Hilary - I think showing both is best. I recently had a family photoshoot (once again, I wish you lived closer!) and got a couple of pictures in multiple styles (B&W, color, with artistic license). It allows me to decide which ones I want clear pictures to showcase my family and which ones I want to use as “art”. Also, sometimes the artistic photos – like the one of the little girl in the basket above – soften the photo, so its more “pleasing” to look at. I love pictures of kids not looking, since it often truly captures who the child is. I know my son is rarely sitting with a sweet smile on his face, so while I want a few of those to capture the rare moment, I also want the picture of him running across the lawn which captures a period of his life.

    Either way, all of your pictures are incredible.ReplyCancel

    • Liana - Hilary,

      Thanks for your comments. It does seem like my evolving style is aligned with yours. As you look through my portfolio, you’d probably see images that resonated for you. And I think that makes a great match between photog and client. Yet when I start venturing into something different, I have to be careful not to “spring it on a client” since it will deviate from what they’ve seen in my previous work. I’m really trying to be mindful of this as I expand my technique.

      And I’m thrilled you like my work!ReplyCancel

  • Kellie - I like both options. In the pictures you showed above, I loved the hazy look with the boy and girl together. It made the picture feel “softer”. The one with just the little girl, it looked more just fuzzy. Love the silhouette looks and where she’s playing on the pumpkin, looks just so natural and adorable. Shows her adventurous side.ReplyCancel

    • Liana - Hi Kellie,

      Thanks for your thoughts. And yes the tricky thing with haze is that it does wash the photo out. During that shoot I was conflicted between finally getting sunflare and haze successfully but then ending up de-hazing because the photos didn’t have my usual pop. As I went along in my editing I began to get a feel for which ones would work softer, but then again, that doesn’t mean the client won’t go, huh?! So I try to include two versions, though it makes more work of my editing. I’ll sort it out eventually.

      Thanks also for the compliments on the Zizi pics. Silhouettes are indeed tricky, as I discovered, but I thought they were really fun shots. And the pumpkin? I love it!ReplyCancel

  • Hilary - Good points about not springing it on a client. I think as long you provide two options as for the ones where you are deviating from the expected at the start, you’ll be in good shape. I know personally, I am always really excited to see pictures that are unexpected. It makes me all the more impressed.

    In our family shoot, the photographer took a feet shot, had all of us in a row with our fee cut off. My husband was like “huh??? we have no heads” but I think the picture is really great artistic picture. That said, I probably won’t hang it on my wall, but it was neat to see. Also, I always buy the digital images, so its nice to have to look back at someday and remember.ReplyCancel

  • Monica Brushett - Can’t readily define what I do and don’t like. The vast majority of your shots are magical Liana, whether traditional or edgy and that is what I look for and enjoy viewing…magic!ReplyCancel

  • Annie - I adore the hazy, the underexposed, the loveliness of sunflare and the rule of thirds and faceless personality shots, the hands and feet, and walk-aWays.. To me, one hires a “freerange” photographer (i dont know what you really call it) to capture the true essence of something, not to deliver studio portraits. The subject is obviously the focus of the session, but the photog is hired for their style and artistic vision. It benefits your business to offer both, but always let your artsy come through!!ReplyCancel

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