I'm a very technical guy, probably to the point of being a little obsessive. Today I wanted to talk about technical skill and quality versus emotion.
Since I first started in the industry, I have been obsessive about the best technical quality I could possibly deliver. Spending countless hours, days, even years refining and honing skills to get to where I knew I wanted to be. Still learning and working to get better every day, regardless of current status. I mistakenly thought that if I was the very best in town, people would see that and I'd get all the customers. Boy was I wrong.
The current days of everyone being a photographer (the state of the industry) has shown me some things I thought I would never see. High school seniors are taking each others senior portraits, and people are eating it up. Astounded, and not understanding how this could be, I dug a little deeper and it actually directly parallels the people skills and psychology field of observing humans. Let me explain. When you speak to someone how you speak and your body language is more important than what you are saying. Professor Mehrabian came up with the 7 percent rule and it goes like this: communication is 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. The non-verbal is split up into 55 percent being your body language and 38 percent being your tone of voice.
This applies to photos as well. The body language equivalent in photos it the feeling people get from viewing it; the mood.
We as photographers are constantly looking at better photographers than ourselves, and always wanting to get better and be better. But the sad truth is your customers don't notice. Within reason of course, this isn't a license to go out and just blow everything. But it's been studied that people prefer images that have deep emotion or make you feel a certain way over a much superior technical image that might not have that sentiment. This extends far deeper than I was willing to admit as a photographer. I thought there were certain things that all photographers would make sure of, such as the image being in focus, or a person's face not being blue from the sky with a poor color correction. The harsh truth is, people don't care. Perhaps it's not so much a "don't care" as it is a "don't know the difference" situation, but the end result to you is the same.
This was a disappointing reality for someone like myself who has poured everything I have into my quality. But the one constant in the world is change, and to say the industry hasn't changed, or isn't changing would be foolish so all we can do is adapt and work with what we have. So in summary, whether we like it or not, we need to get outside our technical shell and make sure we are delivering content with feeling and emotion, or we'll likely be left behind. I've personally experienced it many times with seasoned veterans and very good quality photographers unable to make a living while there's people doing great with very subpar quality, because they deliver the feeling.
What are your thoughts? What would you say the percentage of quality versus emotion is?