Like it or not, I would say that for most people who use cameras, most of our pictures have purely personal meaning. Take this shot for instance. You might find it mildly appealing as a domestic night scene, or you might not; but either way, chances are you'll have forgotten it completely by this time next week. It didn't start out, and it doesn't end up, as a picture that's much suited for public consumption.
It has meaning of a sort to me because it's my house. But believe it or not, the way I "see" this picture, it's mostly about my dog. You can see her disused tether lying by the back door—it's bolted to the other edge of the deck. Lying across the deck is the new $25 hose that she'd done battle with, and vanquished, earlier that day.
I had left the water on, meaning there was water pressure in the hose (new faucet, new hose, new nozzle, all splendidly non-leaking). As I was working that afternoon I heard a sudden hissing sound from out back along with much enthusiastic barking from Lulu. She had chewed a hole in the hose, which was now attacking her back. She'd backed off, barking, to keep away from the water, and was periodically attacking the living thing that was now dousing her, only to be driven back by the spray each time she got close enough to snap at it. I let this go on until she was thoroughly soaked, and not just because I was getting a good laugh out of it—it was a good substitute for a bath, I figured, and anyway I thought perhaps I should make a run at getting $25 worth of entertainment out of the now-ruined hose.
Lulu's ears are very distinctive—when she's "perked" or alert, the right ear stands straight up and the left one flops down. As a picture of the moon and Venus, a few of my later exposures from this string of shots are actually a bit better, technically speaking. Less garage, more moon, straighter composition, better exposure. But I like this one because it's a portrait of Lulu—that's her in the door, of course, with only the silhouette of her distinctive ears visible. She's peering out to see what I was up to out there. In the later, "better" pictures, she'd gotten bored and gone back to the living room...so of course I like those pictures that much less.
My son might appreciate this shot in something close to the way I do, one day, mostly because it's his house too and, more importantly, his dog. But it's probably unrealistic to expect anyone else to like it the way we would.
That's often the way it is with pictures...little slices of the view in a tiny sliver of time, they're also little vignettes of our lives.
Featured Comment by Mverjeslev: I can fully relate to this shot. This was taken from my balcony:
Mike replies: A gorgeous photograph, Mathias. Personally, while I like astronomical photographs for their own sake, it really adds a whole new dimension and a unique feel to see it in the sky in the context of the lit apartment, the umbrella on the balcony, the silhouette. The masses and the spaces are wonderful. To me the color of the sky looks a bit off, although that may be due to my monitor and/or the vagaries of small JPEGs. I would be very disappointed in a shot like this if it were a fabrication, but as a real photograph of a lunar eclipse in a truthful human setting it's downright magical.
Featured Comment by Ctein: Mike, yeah, some people can't read, and some so totally miss the point of a photo it isn't funny. For the heck of it, I downloaded the photo, fixed the tilt and keystoning and cloned out the sides to fill it in rather than crop down. So, here's the result. Does anyone really, truly think this is a BETTER photo??? Different, yeah. But better? More effective? More evocative? Balderdash! Gimme a break.
For the record, I'm someone who is preternaturally, insanely sensitive to tilt and keystoning in my photos. More than once I've corrected some tilt that looked horribly askew to me, and Photoshop cheerfully reported I'd just made a 0.1 degree rotation. And, really, I could see the difference. I'm the total opposite of Mike. Doesn't mean I'm gonna make art a slave to technical obsession.