Understanding What's Important to the Average Person to be a Better Photographer

When it comes to photography, you have to wonder who your audience is. Who are you trying to talk to when you share your photos in hopes of ultimately booking more clients? Who are you trying to impress? A couple years ago, I wrote How Different People Looks at Photos, talking about how different people are looking at different things when they judge photos. Here’s what I wrote about regular people:

Does this look cool? Yes or no. Basically, the regular population sees a photo more based on how pretty the model is, is the background cool, and is it interesting. The most liked photos on places like Instagram have more interest to them than anything else. It doesn’t matter if it was a blurry photo or if it was over-exposed, but was the photo interesting to the viewer.

So why am I writing this? Today, Fstoppers released a Critique the Community with one of the hosts’ mother. She is not a photographer. And it showed in a few of her ratings. But this is great, she is a small-sample into the look of what the normal non-photographer person is actually thinking when looking at photos. Take a look below.

Here’s some timestamps of important notes I found:

  • 6:05 - She likes some aspects to this, but doesn’t note specific things like the hands on the model or the pose. She just thinks the model has an attractive face, the bird is beautiful, but it just doesn’t work. All true, but she doesn’t note any of the other aspects to why it’s not great. Like the unattractive hands, or the model’s expression.

  • 19:35 - She values the interest in this photo way higher than anything else. The attractiveness of the animals, the tones, the boring lighting… None of it matters to her.

  • 22:36 - This is like a world-class street photo. She doesn’t see the value in it at all.

Dave, why should I care about what the normies think of my work?

Because you need to have perspective on what they’re thinking about. Are you a portrait photographer? An event photographer? They’re not going to think like you, and you have to acknowledge that. When selecting proofs to send or weeding out event photos, you might not like something because of the composition, but the viewer will see a genuine moment with their friend that they’d want to have. This is just a reminder that perspective is important. It’s not just about what you think is good. It’s about how everyone else will view an image and what they might like.

And when it comes to perspective in social media. I want to write about this more later, but when you’re trying to talk to an audience, you need to create content that the audience is actually interested in. I promise you, a photo of a new lens you bought will have zero interest for models or normal people. Just you and the photographers who follow you. So just think about that kind of stuff when you’re working on content.