Photographers, when you comment on something you don’t like in one of the images, will often reply with, “yeah, I know but…”. From their mouths comes a tale of exactly why they didn’t do what they know they should have done. Be it not messing up the exposure, composing better, not missing the moment, getting a better expression, whatever. Additionally, many photographs come with stories attached, tales of how our intrepid shutterbug braved the snow, freezing temperatures and harsh topographical conditions to get their image. There is really only one honest reply to these explanations and tales:
I don’t care.
Truth be told, nobody really cares, even if we pretend we do. The reason is as simple as it is difficult for online photographers to grasp: The image is the only thing that matters.
Look, there are only two kinds of images we see: those that we like and those that we don’t like. Those that we like, we already like. We’re not going to like them more just because they have a story attached, just like I wouldn’t like my TV any more if I knew the guy who put it together only had one hand. Who cares, I’m already sold. And images we don’t like… well, we just don’t like them. The greatest story in the world isn’t going to change what’s on the print. It’ll be a great story with a shitty picture to go along with it.
That’s the thing, it’s really all about the image. This is photography, it’s not mixed media, it’s not an art installation with piss-stained rags lit by a laser shining through a pig’s head. It’s the image, the print, the jpg, the whatever. Build a museum around a shitty picture, and it’ll still suck.
So stop it. Stop trying to defend your work, telling sob stories of how the model wasn’t cool, how you couldn’t get the lights to fire, of how it was so cold outside and whaaaaaaaaaa. Stop showing subpar work and making excuses for it when someone calls you out on it. Be better than that, be a photographer whose work you’d actually like to look at. It’s a lot harder than it seems.