A few days ago I posted some of my soft focus flower shots for all my photog followers, and as expected, the response to these images was very positive. I mentioned in the post how the general public doesn’t view these images with the same positive attitude as do the macro photographers. A few photographers responded saying they had the same experience with showing their soft focus images to friends and family, that they didn’t care for the soft focus look.
One of the artistic benefits we have as macro photographers is the extreme shallow depth of field that we produce while we shoot in very close to our subjects. It’s a benefit that no other style of photography can naturally reproduce without using a special lens like a lensbaby, or a software program.
In the macro photographer’s eyes, this soft look of the shallow depth of field has a really nice artistic look, and as one person wrote on facebook, “a calming feel”.
When we view the vast majority of photographs whether it be of the family get together, landscape photos, portraits of people, travel photography, fashion photography, sport photos, journalism, these are images that are all in focus or have at least the main subjects all in focus.
So now we come along with a flower shot that looks like it was taken with a shaky camera and try to pass it off as art.
We as macro photographers and artistic people understand what is going on here with these soft focus flowers, but you will never convince the non photographer, non artistic, general public that this is anything but an out of focus photo.
Here are two quotes from people I overheard talking in my art show booth.
I had two ladies viewing one of my soft focus flowers and the one lady whispers to the other, “look at this one, it’s all out of focus” and she didn’t mean it in a good way.
One guy was viewing a soft focus flower shot and whispers to his wife, “I don’t know much about photography, but at least I get them all in focus“.
These are the thoughts of the majority of the people that view these out of focus images.
Our eyes don’t have shallow depth of field, we go through life seeing everything in focus, so images look a little abnormal when subjects are not in focus.
Most people own point and shoots, and camera phones, and what do they do best, they get everything in focus.
People will wonder why you can’t get the subject in focus with your expensive DSLR camera and lens when their cheap point and shoot or the camera phone can get it all in focus.
They look at you like you have no idea how to work your camera.
I’ve even asked art consultants who buy my images for their projects why they don’t buy the more artistic soft focus flowers. Although they do like these images, they do realize that they have an abstract feel that doesn’t work as well with most of their clients.
I’ve had many photographers tell me even in their camera clubs the other photographers that were not into macro didn’t care for the soft focus look, and even photogs told me that judges in their club competitions would critiques their soft focus images saying there should be more in focus.
I have had lots of learning experience about soft focus images through 7 years in the art show business. I averaged about 25 shows a years and the estimated attendance at those shows came to 2.5 million attendees. I sold thousands of prints and talked to thousands of people each year, and found that the soft focus images were not appealing to the vast majority. After a few years I only offered the soft focus images in the smallest print sizes because they didn’t take up much space in the booth and I did sell a few once in a while, but in the larger sizes I never sold enough of them to justify taking up the space where I could put print with everything in focus that would sell. It’s not that they never sold, just to little buyers of that style.
I shoot soft focus flowers because I like the artistic feel of those images and most of my macro photographer friends online like them. I understand were people are coming from that don’t care for these images, and I can accept it, and know that it is not something I’m doing wrong.