As beginner creator, have you ever question the idea of beauty ?
I’m not a pro and I’m not even serious, but I like to take picture so perhaps that qualify me as a creator at the loosest sense. When seeing pictures, my own and others including the masters, the question often arise. What is beauty ?
Here’s the problem. When seeing a “great” picture, I then question, is this picture actually beautiful (or in other words, a “great picture”) ?
Not really. I don’t mean the picture is bad, it’s just that perhaps it’s merely good at technical level, and probably in telling story.
Often time it’s one of these things, which all leads to the same thing: human are addicted to stimulation, we’re junkies.
- It’s unusual. As we grow older, we saw more of the world and need stronger stimulation to become excited. This gave birth to the most difficult question: tell me something I don’t know; as well as “been there, done that”. If the picture is simply stimulating in a way that it’s still fresh, is it really a “beauty” ? Don’t we already have other words to it such as “fresh” or “novel” or “unique” ?
- It’s different. This includes pictures with colour effect such as monochrome, or process like photo filters or HDR. We wanted something that look unlike what we see with our own eyes, a different world. But again, it’s just “different”, not necessarily “beautiful”.
- It has a certain pattern in it. This is the part where traditional photographers with sworn loyalty to composition loved so much. But… it’s stimulation again. Balance, yes, but the in more complex composition ? Unlike computer that excels in repetitive calculations, our brain excels in pattern recognition. Finding the visual pattern gave that stimulation needed to generate interest.
That leaves one thing of my favourite genre, photojournalism. But in this one… it’s the content. Is it beauty ? Or is it just an interesting story ? Even in this one we can always find picture that’s stimulating… but not sure it can be categorized as beautiful.
Ah, by the way, there’s one more genre that I like very much, parody pictures. But most photographers would deny it. Rather than beautiful, this genre’s main point is fun.
So, what makes a picture emotionally recognized as beautiful ? Maybe at this point, you’ll say it’s what I mentioned as “stimulating”.
But I don’t want to take that as beauty. For me, that’s just exploiting the weakness in human psyche like what the advertisers and marketers do. Stab that hole, press that switch, and make them think the picture is beautiful.