I have been trying to analyse what are the factors that initiate my taking a particular composition and have devised the following processes to achieve it.
To start with I had to discover and give names to the factors that caused me to be interested in taking a particular image. By reviewing 76 of my “Iceland 2017” images I was able to identify and give names to the following factors:
• Intuition – I see an image, I know it is right but I cannot yet explain why. I am recognising the potential for a narrative in the scene but not the narrative itself.
• Recognition – I recognise a relationship to something else, a painting, a film, a style, that has previously inspired me. For me, such a scene already has a built-in narrative.
• Design – There is something about the design of the scene that appeals – colours, shapes, etc. However, it may not have much in the way of a narrative.
• Belief – A location that appears to have a lot of potential compositions that should have interesting narratives. For example, there are quirky elements and or juxtapositions.
• Spectacle – The lighting or something else makes for a spectacular image but often without other merits such as a strong narrative.
Some images had more than one initiating factor. For example, I may have started at a location with a “Belief” that good images could be found there. Then later I identify some elements of “Design” that appealed to me. Such an image would score for both Belief and Design. Hence a larger total number of “Factors” appear in the data than the number of images.
The second step was to go through each image and give it a score based upon my personal preferences, was I pleased with it, did it have a strong narrative, did it fit with my research goals, etc.
This is a purely subjective scoring system that left me with 35 images out of 76 classified as Good or Very Good.
Here is a chart showing the proportions of images that I classified as successful or not.
I am planning to engage with an independent group of photographers for them to rate my photographs against my stated objectives and against their personal preferences as a reality check of my own analysis.
Only those images rated as Good or Very Good will ever be considered for display in my project.
My aim here is to discover whether any particular factor or factors resulted in more or fewer successful images.
The following data table shows the factors versus image success.
Factor Good or Very good images All images
Belief 15 44
Design 15 28
Intuition 7 8
Recognition 5 6
Spectacle 3 6
When these numbers are displayed on a Radar chart (and referencing back to the raw data for Image Success) some interesting conclusions can be made.
The most striking observation is that all 7 images with “Intuition” as an identified factor also scored as “Very Good”.
Five of the 7 images with “Recognition” as a factor scored either “Good” or “Very Good”.
Just 5 of my images were classified as “Spectacle” and of these only 3 achieved a score of “Good” or “Very Good”. So being spectacular is not a strong indicator of success.
“Belief” is by far the most common driver for my actually taking an image. However, only ~34% of such images score “Good” or “Very Good”.
“Design” is not a good predictor that the final image will be a success.
Overall my experiencing feelings of “Intuition” or “Recognition” at a location are by far the best indicators that I will produce successful images.
“Belief”, based upon having seen quirky elements and or juxtapositions at a location, maybe a good starting point for taking images but I am not so good at turning this into successful compositions unless I also experience “Intuition” or “Recognition”.
Most of the locations for the images in this sample were only visited once. Consequently, I had little choice over the lighting conditions and this certainly had an impact upon my success rate.
Additionally, when “Belief” is the sole driver, perhaps I need to visit the location more than once in order to better understand it and its possibilities. This technique did work with my multiple visits to Cramond Island. For future field work I should plan to travel less and spend longer at each location.