gimmicky effects

by julie posted March 9, 2009

Sometimes things I read ages ago pop back into my consciousness without warning, and this is one of them.

I remember someone saying (/writing) about holga images, pointing out that the effect is a gimmick and if you strip away those visual characteristics of the camera/lens then you”’re left with a very boring picture, which renders the entire thing pointless. I fail miserably at paraphrasing and it was so long ago I haven’t a hope of finding the original source, but they seemed to be saying that if it wasn’t taken with a holga then it wouldn’t be regarded as good, so the whole thing is a gimmick. As in, if you had a boring picture, and you add those effects to make it interesting, you”’re somehow cheating and it isn’t any good no matter which way you look at it.

Of course this is mostly up there with things like when people insist that images are sharp from front to back, or whinge about horizons being 0.02 degrees off horizontal, but I knew there was an actual logical reply and had to spill it out somewhere.

The quality of these images I think doesn’t come from something that would have made a great picture in the first place, pimped up with crazy effects. I think it’s about having the ability to marry up the visual style with the subject, and make something that wouldn’t necessarily work as a ‘straight’ image, work beautifully with the softness and the vignetting and so on. Sometimes we’re so overwhelmed by a visual style that sweeps the photographic communities that it’s easy to think everyone’s just taking their everyday, run of the mill stuff and mindlessly applying a filter, or a preset. It’s a shame to write off some absolute gems because there is a fashion that takes it too far and gives the whole thing a bad name.

There’s definitely a talent in knowing what to use and when to use it, and I think it’s a highly underrated one.

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