Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What Makes A Great Photo

This link from Kottke was interesting. Joerg Colberg asks a bunch of photogs and photobloggers what makes a great photo. The answers and the examples listed are absolutely fascinating.

Tangent. Michael Nitsche at Free Pixel asks what the 10 most innovative machinima are? (more here - still haven't come up with a list myself). OK, not the same question (what makes a great photo, what makes an innovative machinima) but it got me thinking about the two forms of art/expression.

Photography is a completely visual media. There's no score, no rousing speech to inspire the troops, nothing that tweaks our emotions. A simply raw image (or set of images). Machinima (and film), on the other hand, is free to use speech, sound, and visuals in a combination that perhaps is far more powerful emotionally than any photograph. Yes, there are emotionally provocative photos. There are entertaining photos. But photography does not not have the reach and impact of cinema. Cinema is far more complex, which is why there are so many award categories at the Oscars. It's also why people flock to film and discuss great movies at the watercooler the next day (and TV - or at least HBO - or American Idol? -ugh). Discussions of great photos are probably limited to a much more select audience - many of which are photographers themselves.

Cinema can innovate in one aspect and utterly fail in another. You can have great cinematography, and a horrible film. You can watch a fabulous performance, and be utterly bored by the time the credits start to roll. With photography the impact is simpler, cleaner, more immediate. Clinical. It either hits you or you walk away and forget it. The greatness or innovation is almost entirely in the hands of the photographer. Film is messier, it requires so many pieces to come together in order to be effective, from so many disparate parts, that it is a wonder that great films are ever made (or happen) in the first place. Yet they are richer for having achieved greatness.

The post on 'innovative' machinima was inspired by an article on the 10 most important games of all time from the New York Times (and Grand Text Auto).

'Important', 'innovative', 'best'. Not the same thing. But these categories certainly inspire thought, discussion, and examination. Perhaps even a fight or two.

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