Why do the aesthetics of a photograph matter?
Your aesthetic tastes are constantly evolving
This is something I discovered for myself:
There is no ultimate aesthetic to achieve. Just keep making photos that look beautiful for you.
I had this sucker thought that somehow there would be a “perfect” photo aesthetic, only if I had the right camera, lens, sensor, film, equipment, etc.
Furthermore there’s black and white vs color. Then there is how you process your photos. There are a trillion ways to process your photos, all which will give you a different aesthetic:
At this point, I think aesthetic consistency is for suckers. Allow yourself to shoot any type of photo, and just organize them later:
The nice thing with film is that it has a very unique aesthetic which cannot be perfectly simulated with digital. Generally film photos are more gritty, grainy, and colors seem to be a but “false”. But I think this is the appeal; imperfection is beautiful.
However if you want more control over your aesthetic, digital is the way to go; especially shooting RAW (creating your own presets and filters and look).
For a film like digital approach, just shoot JPEG (I like positive film color preset on RICOH GR II), or the positive film color preset on Pentax 645z.
Beautiful or ugly aesthetic?
For myself I will separate aesthetics into two categories:
- Beautiful aesthetic
- Ugly aesthetic
Of course this is highly personal to me. I strive to make beautiful photographs which inspire me, motivate me, make me smile, and makes me feel more optimistic, hopeful, and creatively powerful.
Ugly photos tend to depress me.
When to be consistent?
My practical tip:
Just shoot whatever however you like. Organize your photos later.
For example just shoot everything, then find an aesthetic consistency afterwards, then organize your photos that way.
And also aesthetics is connected to the type of subject matter you shoot, for example shapes and forms below in black and white (shot on Fujifilm XF10, processed with ERIC KIM MONOCHROME PRESET):
What is the end game with aesthetics?
Perhaps the end game we have as photographers is to continually make photos we consider beautiful, and to allow our photos to naturally evolve (aesthetics-wise).
This means, allow yourself to change and evolve! Avoid self-tyranny in photography. Delight in change and your own photography flux. Consistency is boring; change and evolution is fun!
Allow your equipment to change. Allow yourself to change.
What new artistic wings have you not yet sprouted? Evolve!