Many, if not most photographers deem a photograph successful if it is well exposed and sharply focused. If it accurately represents the subject in front of the camera then it is sellable (if that is their goal). I personally know a photographer whose pride rested on how sharp his photos of weddings were. He mentioned it every time you talked about his work. None of this is bad necessarily. Many purchasers of photography consider the accurate representation of the scene to be desirable. Out of focus subjects, film grain, muted or inaccurate colors and any number of other factors that may not have been present in the original scene may lead these people to believe there is something wrong with the image and therefore not want it. What may be missed by the people in the previous examples is that photography can convey a mood and feeling that has little to do with the accurate reproduction of a scene. Photographers can purposely distort reality in any number of ways to convey anything they want. That is of course good too. Remember that all photography is an abstraction in one way or another. The rendering of three dimensions in two is the first level of abstraction. Another is the removal of color. You can go further and further until your head hurts thinking about it.
The Pictorialists were a group of photographers that chose not to be bound by the constraints of the camera as most had. They didn’t want to be mistaken for casual snapshooters who just took photos of what was in their way. The movement led to the photo secessionist movement and eventually disbanded. The principles that the movement stood for are still valid of course. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say.
What do you think?
P.S. The photos in this post were taken in 2010 and 2009 respectively by Keith Pitts Photography. They were exposed (not captured) with a Holga on Kodak PlusX 120 film.