image appeal (Science, any reading?)

limeblulimeblu Posts: 34Member
edited March 2015 in Nikon DSLR cameras
I am trying to piece together a theory as to what makes an image desirable/popular. It seems that images containing certain elements attract most attention most of the time. But there is always exceptions, always. Has anyone studied this or can anyone lead me to any studies/ reading on the subject. Opinions, comments or personal experience greatly appreciated. I have a history in art theory and fine art but photography added a new level.
Post edited by limeblu on


  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,530Member
    edited March 2015
    One element that I am certain will attract the most attention is a scantily clad beautiful female.

    Does this qualify?
    Post edited by WestEndFoto on
  • limeblulimeblu Posts: 34Member
    Lol it is surely a very popular aspect of many images, I personally could ponder all aspects of their beauty. I am thinking of some of the less obvious aspects, but I like your approach Westend!
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    I think photo appeal is a very multi-faceted thing and although I haven't yet looked, there's likely some writeups on the psychology behind it all. It all probably involves neurosensory triggers in each individual's brain that creates the attractiveness of one photo over another. How one perceives beauty (and I don't exclusively mean male to female or vice versa) is probably as different as our personalities.

    In terms of photography I think a major force is composition and how light is utilized or rendered on the image. There are photographers out there who could take a picture of a pencil on a table and make it totally creative and unique, and others who could take a picture of a scantily clad woman and totally screw it up. In terms of people shots, females in particular, I much prefer a well posed subject in good fashionable clothing in a really cool and creatively lit environment than someone poorly posed no matter what they have on.

    Many, many, many years ago when I was a kid my mother had a monthly subscription to "Psychology Today" magazine and I often wondered what she got from it. Now I wish I could peek at some of them.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,387Member
    If we knew we all could be better photographers. I suspect different people with different life experiences are attracted to different things for many different reasons. Thus, I doubt a good theory can be assembled. The closest I know of involves composition. Certain generic compositions seem to attract people. As far as subjects go, the attraction is likely to be specific to the life experience and values of the viewer. In other words, we find beauty in things we like while other people find no beauty there at all.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,530Member
    If you are thinking about this, you might spend some time looking at Flickr's explore. There are certainly duds in there and great shots missed, but if you want to apply the scientific principle to this subject, this is as close as you will get, as it is a poll of sorts.
  • michael66michael66 Posts: 231Member
    I am trying to piece together a theory as to what makes an image desirable/popular.
    Hmmmm... Good luck with that. But I do find people's opinions on the interesting.

    I think the answers lie in the same part of the brain as to why you are attracted to one woman ( or man ) and not another, whereas someone else feels the other way.

    Have you ever taken a series of shots of the same scene, the only difference being a few moments in time and your position or the lighting changes or maybe the wind shifts. One shot is incredible and the another is boring. To make matters worse, you show them to someone else and they have the reverse opinion.

  • ggbutcherggbutcher Posts: 322Member
    edited March 2015
    Here's someone who has apparently studied the topic extensively:

    I googled "composition psychology", and his site was the top entry. A rather rich source; I bookmarked it...
    Post edited by ggbutcher on
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,363Member
    I agree with @PitchBlack When it comes to photos one mans garbage is another mans treasure, and so on and so forth.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 411Member
    Photography is so subjective that it is hard to pin down to one thing. Some people like coke, others Pepsi, some hate either and stick to root beer. I for the most part am also in @PitchBlack's boat.

    There are some things tho that make an image appealing to the majority. Images composed to the rule of thirds and the fibonacci spiral often hold interest longer than those who dont. Images with a good use of color or contrast are also more engaging. Interesting read Rx4Photo...
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
  • HammieHammie Posts: 258Member
    I think a photo needs to have emotion. This can come from the scene of the photo. It can come from bringing back a memory for the person looking at the photo. It can come from a person or persons expressions in the photo. Sometimes, a photo can depict the emotional state of the photographer.

    However, you flip it, this is how I judge a good photo from a bad one. I will often overlook "bad" aspects of a photo if there is emotion.

    But remember, not everyone reacts the same way emotionally to the same thing. Seeing a picture of a jaguar making a kill to one person as elegant, graceful, powerful, may cause a grotesque feeling. However, both viewers had an emotional response. As a photographer, you succeeded. As a viewer, the positive emotion response will cause you to like it.

    It's late so I am hoping that this makes sense. I am not going to go over and proofread it. I'm going to try to get some sleep now.
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,203Member
    edited March 2015
    I'd have to agree with the "One man's garbage is another man's treasure." ideal. When you take photos, just as you do for comedy, you need to consider your audience. If you're talking to a French audience and all you're speaking is Parsi, you're going to have problems.

    Same thing with photography- your macro photos of spiders isn't going to go over well in a guaranteed 100% arachnophobic society, no matter how nice you think they are.
    Post edited by NSXTypeR on
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    edited March 2015
    The book "the Photographer's Mind" by Freeeman is a good one.
    Post edited by ThomasHorton on
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    And, the answer is here:

    We all see the world from our own perspective and this is what determines our likes and dislikes. Unfortunately, one cannot develop psychological insight from simply being instructed, but must come to these ends via a search of one's psychological make up. Psychotherapy is one avenue to develop insight, but without insight we tend to believe we are correct and others may not be correct. This is the problem in determining what we think is good and what is not.

    And, our opinions are so fixed in many cases, we are unable to see the perspective of another. While we can "learn" certain technical aspects of good images, we cannot make judgements based soloed on our "unbiased" observations. We are always influenced by unconscious psychological factors.

    Any questions on my opinion can also be made via PM if so desired.
    Msmoto, mod
Sign In or Register to comment.