Today something fascinating happened. I posted on my Facebook page a comparison of two photos, both of the same scene. One was subtly colorful with rays of sun and hope emerging from behind the city and a wall of fog. The other, gritty and monochrome with more contrast and detail, details of days gone by. My reason for posting the two side by side was simple: I wanted to see which one was preferred by those I share my work with.
Ultimately, an artist is “supposed” to pursue and create the pieces that they themselves would be most happy with, no matter if the artist themselves is the only one who likes or understands the piece. I’ve heard on more than one occasion that “pandering” to the crowd is the equivalent of selling out. I find this notion to be ridiculous. Sure I chase the photographs and projects that are fulfilling to me. However, it’s important, if not vital, to me to know what is important to my family, friends, fans, and followers (wow, do I hate the terms fans and followers so let’s just say you all are friends and family) to see in my work.
I’ve always been aware of the opinions and preferences of my friends, but never been aware of their influence, at least not beyond a subconscious level. Until today. When I posted this color versus monochrome fight to the death, I was fully confident that my black and white rendition of the Duquesne Incline in fog would emerge victorious in the first minute of the first round. This was my preference and thought it would be everyone else’s preference, whether they liked black and white photographs or not.
I was wrong. At the time of this writing the gritty, blue-collar-looking black and white photo is winning. But it’s a much closer match than I anticipated and it’s taught me two things: I certainly do not know everyone’s preference and that preference is meaningful to me. The more I read the comments, specifically from those folks who are Team Color, the more I find my eyes drifting to the color version better, and I’m not upset about it. How can this be when I was adamantly Team B&W? It’s simple: the opinions, values, preferences, or whatever the case may be of those that follow my work are important to me. And they always will be, or I’ll find myself with nobody to share my work with.
Please feel free to let me know in the comments which image you prefer. Thank you! 🙂