Non-Photographers love HDR? Really? Hmmmmm…..

Richard Charpentier HDR, Notes from Rich, Photography, RLC Design 6 Comments

My number one best seller

I read a recent post by Scott Kelby regarding HDR photography, and it firmed up a belief I’ve had since starting my business here.  People who aren’t running around with cameras all the time LOVE HDR.  I mean love it!

Scott’s post covered the topic in an interesting way, and his feelings on HDR work.  He does it sometimes, and more often he doesn’t.  But he does acknowledge, if you’re not a shutter junkie there’s a high probability that an HDR image is going to catch your attention over a standard image.  Why does that happen?  Well, I can’t tell you the why, but I can tell you it happens a lot.

Personally, in my gallery I have about 75% HDR work hanging and 25% non-HDR images on the wall.  And while people really enjoy my non-HDR work (folks love my Hitchhiker), the non-HDR work DOES NOT SELL.  Not at all.  Seriously.

Each week, in between the folks coming in to see if we’ve gone out of business yet, people walk through and stop at my Vermillion Cliffs National Monument wall.  And they’re blown away.  That doesn’t mean they’re buying, but it does mean that the images reached out and nabbed them.

So, what’s a guy to do?  If you haven’t noticed I haven’t been posting a ton of HDR lately.  This year I’ve been in experimental mode big time.  I’m having fun with portable flash, toying with photographing people, and working up a big project as I type (actually it’s been on going for weeks).

A 32x48 of Bright Angel went out of the gallery this weekend. Guess I should run another.....

Well, here’s what I’ve got to do.  Keep doing HDR here and there along with the rest of my experiments.  See, the HDRs sell in my gallery setting.  And selling means that I get money.  The money is used for food, insurance, gasoline, and all that other stuff that goes into living.  HDR means, in part, that my bills get paid.  Sure, the bulk of my business is fine art reproduction for other artists, but every so often an $850 canvas goes out the door, and when it does I can guarantee you 100% of the time it’s an HDR.

HDR Detraction and “poo pooing”

I know, as Scott points out in his article, that photographers seeing HDR have a different reaction.  Many don’t like HDR.  Others shoot it all the time.  Some love the “over the top” look.  In the end, photographers usually have a different reaction to an HDR than the general public does.

Often times I’ll have someone walk into the shop with a camera slung over their should looking around.  They’ll be talking to whoever came in with them, they’ll get to some of my pieces and I’ll here…..

“Oh, that’s an HDR.  I could do that, but I think that’s too manipulated…..”

The conversation will go on for a few, then I’ll interrupt, say howdy and let them know that yes, some of the images are HDR.  Some aren’t.  When I throw that one out there you can see the nervous look come across their faces.  They can’t figure out which is and which isn’t.  That’s a lot of fun, and I guess a great reason to keep my non-HDRs up on the wall, even if they don’t sell.  Cause it helps arrest the instant criticism of an image because it’s HDR…….  or is it?  😉

The Grand Canyon Monsoon is another one of my best sellers. Too bad it's an HDR, eh?

You know, it wasn’t long ago that just being digital was a bad thing in the eyes of “serious photographers.”  Also, any hint of Photoshopping was bad.  Seriously, for some, not going digital is a selling point.

Each summer here in Prescott we have multiple art shows on the Courthouse Square.  And there’s one photographer who shows up consistently to sell his wares that interests me.  See, on his booth he has BIG SIGNS that point out his photography is not digital in any way, it is not digitally manipulated, etc.  His key selling point is that he does not shoot digital.  I’ve spoken with him without introducing myself and telling him what I do for a living.  And I’ve learned that he feels digital photography is not a legitimate medium, period.

One of my new HDR winners. Snail Rock, in White Pocket

Hmmmm……so there are some film guys out there who think digital sucks totally, end of story.  Just like some folks don’t like HDR, or Black & White, or anything else they feel like hating on.  But at the end of the day, what counts?

Paying my bills.  🙂  And if HDR helps me do that, guess what I’ll be selling.

Be sure to pop by Kelby’s site and give the post a read.  It’s a good one.

Comments 6

  1. To me there’s HDR and then there’s HDR done right.

    If it’s done right, you either A) Don’t know it was done, or B) are so blown away by the imagery and intensity of the range that there’s no way you can say it’s a bad photo…

    In each of your examples here Rich, it’s a case of option B! 🙂
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..Lexar Pro 300X CF Cards – Giveaway and Review =-.

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    Hey thanks Jason! I’m still working out my style every day. And I don’t think I’ll ever settle on “one look.” Every situation is different, right?

    Gotta say, Kelby’s post was a good one. Why is it I find weekly inspiration over at his site? 🙂 Heck, I find inspiration at everybody’s sites, and I need more time to read more photo blogs. Maybe I should get an assistant. 🙂

  3. Y’know, I’ve been thinking about that issue ever since I read Kelby’s post, and I ran into a parallel conversation on Shutterstock yesterday regarding another “effect”, that of selective desaturation (e.g. black and white shot of bride holding flowers, with the flowers still in color). Selective desaturation is something that I as a photographer no longer really appreciate, because I feel it’s been overused, I see it everywhere, and so on. Non-photographers, however, still apparently really love that look… your post is a good reminder to me that, as a photographer, I need to make and process the shots in a way that makes my clients happy…

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    The customer is always right….well, except when they come into your business talking about all the failing businesses around you and whether or not you’ll survive. Then the customer is just depressing. But mostly, they’re always right. 😉

    I know the selective desaturation, and I’m with you. But yup, if folks want it, you’ve got to sell it. 🙂

  5. Got a giggle out of the “digital isn’t art” attitude given the same was said about film when it was the hot new thing (and every other innovation in every artistic field). Some things never change.

    But I do have to admit that I prefer non-HDR or at least those with a “lighter touch”, but then we were never in a position to buy anything when we lived in Prescott. I guess we know what kind of “customer” that makes me…. 😉

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    Everything “new” doesn’t work for somebody. Hey, I was Mr Anti-Photoshop a few short years ago. But truth be told, it was all about sour grapes and not having the time to learn. It took a good friend (thanks Bert) to convince me that post processing was a part of photographic life and I’d better get over it……

    Still, I don’t like split tones….. 😉

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