The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Nice Photography

Following my blog post at the beginning of the year, 2009 in Photographs, I received a lot of positive feedback, including suggestions I could even make a calendar using some of the images.

The snow pictures and the fog photos in following posts likewise generated a few “oohs” and “aahs” as, for that matter, did the early morning mist-on-the-loch images I took last autumn.

Along with a few comments about creating cards or prints from some of my photographs, I decided to investigate a site called RedBubble. Basically it allows you to upload images, which people can then buy cards, prints or even posters of. They have a base price for printing and sending them, to which I can add a percentage to make a small profit.

So I created an account, wrote up a bit about me, and uploaded what I thought were probably the more saleable of my images. And if you look over on the sidebar to the right of my blog you’ll see a link to my Redbubble pages and a widget rotating some of the photos there.

I looked at it again this morning.

It’s full of pleasant photos.

Lovely photos.

Nice photos.

Nice photos…


And I almost gagged.

This isn’t the kind of photographer I want to be.

Landscapes and wildlife are mildly interesting distractions, and they keep me handy with the camera when I don’t have faces to photograph. But they are not my passion. And they are not how I wish to be defined.

It’s time for an overhaul. I need to revisit what I’m doing with my photography.


Postman said...

I think your landscapes (dang, I couldn't think of a better word!).

That being said, you must remain true to your goals and aspirations as a photographer, and if they don't include landscape photography (profits notwithstanding), then by all means, desist. Revisit. Rethink.

The rest of us will understand. We'll [sob] try to get along somehow.

Anonymous said...

Just had a look ... it would appear the one that I've been coveting since the moment I first saw it - "Swan in the early morning mist 2" - is the only one not available as a print!! :(

Kim Ayres said...

Postman - there's one photography site I belong to that whenever I post a pic like these I get positive comments, but when I post the kind I really like doing, they generally get no comments and are politely ignored. The problem is, it gets tempting to post the kinds of images other people will like, just to get the comments.

Danielle - that's because it was a very close crop in of "Swan in the early morning mist 3" and so it too small for anything bigger than a card. At print size it would just look pixilated

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh ... shame! Still love it though! :)

erika said...

Just because you take beautiful pictures of landscapes and wildlife, it doesn't mean that it defines you. Also, just because people don't comment on your portraits or photos of a different subject, it doesn't mean that they don't find them equally impressive. I think portraits and photos exploring "more serious subjects" are harder to comment on and they evoke more complicated feelings and thoughts besides 'oooh' and 'aaaah'. So maybe people just can't always articulate what and how they feel. I don't think that comments are always a good measure of the effect that your work has on people. It could also be the photography site that you joined - maybe look for a different one? I absolutely love your portraits but I would dismiss your 'nice' pictures as inferior in any way :)

V said...

Hey, both have their benefits and they're all beautiful.

One sort may help pay the bills and until the other has found its audience. The joy of a 'porfolio career' type existence is we get to do the stuff we love, but sometimes have to do things we can just do until more opportunuties for the good stuff are created.

It's all better than being chained to someone else's desk....

The Pollinatrix said...

That's funny, because I would much rather photograph landscapes than people.

Your landscapes are much more than "nice" to me. I couldn't even comment on the last set because there are just no words for how they affect me. And I'm probably a bit envious of your talent, too.

I promise I'm not trying to kiss your arse, but I feel the need to defend your landscapes to you. They are...literary. They're not just picture OF something, they're journeys INTO something, often with a mysterious tone.

So ok, there are words for how your photos affect me, after all. I was just too lazy to use them before.

Ok. I'll shut up now.

Tiffin said...

I think that's the angst zone between creating something that pulls your creative self the closest to it, that you could in all good conscience call art, and creating something that is good, perhaps even beautiful, but falls short of the inner vision.

I think Pollinatrix said it perfectly: your scenes do have a literary quality, they do pull the viewer into "something". If someone wants to buy one to hang on their wall, it obviously sings to them, even if your little interior gnarled and crabby art gnome might not agree.

After all, we aren't talking Elvis bullfighting in his army costume painted on velvet here.

Eryl Shields said...

Tiffin's given me an idea for our next shoot, where can we get a bull?

erika said...

Of course it was a typo and I meant "wouldn't", I wouldn't dismiss your landscape photography as inferior, as those photos are gorgeous.

Postman said...

That must be rotten. To have what you really like doing, your heart's work, ignored. I understand your temptation. But's too dang short not to do what you love.

I sure wish I had managed to describe your work as beautifully and as accurately as the Pollinatrix did...I was rather gobsmacked.

What sort of photographs do you like doing? (Forgive me for not knowing.)

The Pollinatrix said...

I do want to clarify that I'm not trying to argue that you "should" take photos of landscapes and try to sell them.

Annie said...

I know exactly what you mean Kim. My MoJo photgraphically has vanished at the moment, but it's not race season. I've taken photographs of other things and had 'nice shot' comments and good comments about shots that I thought were ok, but they're not the shots I love doing. My thing (as you probably know) is motorsport, particularly the motorbikes. If there's ever a genre to get nice shot comments, it's motorsport. On the site we both visit photographically motorsport shots go down as well as an infestation of fleas in a cat home. It seems that this site is obsessed with landscapes. You know that I love your portraiture shots. You capture the essence of the person, but not man people can see that and so the shots get less feedback. I like your more abstract stuff, but I'm very much a 'do something different' kind of person anyway.

I tend to post shots that other people will like and comment on rather than the motorsport ones I love. And I think that what people don't realise is what goes on behind the scenes to capture that shot, being motorsport or portaits. There is a certain skill needed, but people judge on the resultant shot only taking no background work into account. Does that all make sense? or am I just off on a ramble again? LOL.

There is nothing wrong with posting other shots because we all need to be told we've taken a good shot (or nice) but I have to be honest, I've had to join a site that is motorsport inclined so that I can share my genre of passion, but that doesn't mean that I don't like taking photographs of other things. I see them as a stopgap and an interim measure until I can take the photographs I'm happy and comfortable (and in my element) taking.

Roschelle said...

Beautiful photos. I especially like 'Swan in the early Morning Mist'.

I agree with most of the other commenters. If you're passionate about faces/people more so than animals/landscapes, do what pleases you. I think photographs of people can be just as captivating as wildlife/landscape.

emma said...

I think there is a place for everything, including that which is "nice". These days I find the more gentle photography and artwork much more enjoyable than when I was younger, although I still adore other work, particularly when making it (mellowing with age?).

Whats good about doing the more "beautiful" or "traditional" for me is that it is good practice for one thing, and it can be a springboard for other ideas - that is, I'm still trying to build up a body of work that can be overhauled!

emma said...

ps, I like red-bubble, it has a very wide variety of work so I'm sure the work you are passionate about will find it's place in there.

Pat said...

I understand - you are very much a people person. Still and all that Low winter sun over Rascarel Bay is dam near perfection to me.

Anonymous said...

I could relate so closely to what you've written as myself an artist.

CG said...

I don't think Red Bubble is renowned for it's "in depth critiques". I think your work is great; I actually prefer your more edgy, unuusual stuff - I should tell you more often - your work is not "nice" and I hope you carry on doing the stuff you REALLY want to do!

Ché l'écossais said...

I feel your pain, Kim.

Sometimes I'd draw something for it's total awfulness - for a sarcastic laugh - and be surprised by peoples genuinely enthusiastic response.

("naked chick on Harley-Davidson" comes to mind here)

But when I spent a couple of passionate hours on a craggy, beautiful face, the same people would say "Um, ah, yeah, very nice..not as good as that naked chick on a bike you did, though".

At this point, I think, you realise that you don't do your thing for other people, ultimately, you do it for yourself, and if people like it - that's cool. And if they don't - thats cool too (naah, not really - fark 'em!).

At least you're not creating neo-expressionist, moodily lit shots of toothpaste tubes all day long.
And for that, you can be thankful !

Mary Witzl said...

But your photos aren't just nice, Kim, they're engaging, mysterious, compelling, and romantic. Forget all that 'nice' stuff!

Sayre said...

You could just sell the landscapes as bread and butter - and put your heart and soul in to the portraits (which I truly love). When you're a good photographer, you're good no matter what the subject.

Personally, I believe that portrait work is much more difficult and challenging. To get a picture that you like AND that the subject likes takes a real talent.

Were it not a somewhat creepy idea, I'd say do a Meg calendar. Your pictures of her are always just breathtaking and beautiful.

Tara Marie said...

Multi-faceted.......some images will feed the belly and pay the rent, other images will feed the soul. I hope you do both.

Katie Roberts said...

Hi Kim,

Ummm, missed this blog post for some reason. Odd. It seems to fit right into what I was writing to you the other day... follow your true intention Kim.

Nice is a horrible word, I've always thought.

I wonder maybe its the abject beauty of these that puts you off, they contrast so much with your sense of the gritty and real.

But I think I know where you're coming from and its a big wake-up call as a artist to question whether what you're producing is in fact what you want to be known for.

Your portraits are radical, raw and unique. They say something that only you are saying. I reckon thats enough strength to build a lot of interest on and very possibly a very strong career.

Anonymous said...

A bit hard on oneself.... Art is alot of things, some of it is nice, some disturbing some completely toxic. You will find your own voice. I struggle with the photo sites because they all seem to generate this pressure to be of something extraordinary- a pic of a dying someone or the extreme scenery of the ice floes of Antarctica or some such stuff. It's all great but there's something to be said for just doing what ya like to do without the pressure to surmount the last one. I love your pics, including the landscapes because they capture a moment that makes me hold my breath and then exhale slowly.

Helen Mac said...

Kim, there's nothing wrong in selling some saleable images in order to fund your passion. If your pictures really are nice and vanilla then you won't get known for them anyway but still likely to get known for the more edgy personal images you really want to capture.

If you don't let your passion and your dream die, it's ok to do o ther things too.

MikeP said...

For my son's wedding this summer, his bride-to-be wants to hire one of the photography students at the college she attends, because they have very creative work. But her mother insists on getting a "professional" photographer. What is your advice?

Kim Ayres said...

Erika - It's a good point you make about the nature of comments, although my point to Postman is still reflected in the votes (or lack thereof) for things like Pic of the Day. However, your comment is a good one and much appreciated :)

V - no, the landscapes don't pay the bills, but you're dead right about the alternative :)

Pollinatrix - I once spoke to a superb landscape photographer I know about whether he ever did portraits. "Good God no," he said, "It's all about egos!" It was at that point I realised there are many different types of photography and most people prefer to specialise in one or 2 of them only :)

Oh, and I appreciate a bit of arse kissing as much as anyone :)

Tiffin - if you have a picture of Elvis bullfighting in his army costume painted on velvet, please post it and let me know :)

Eryl - have you an Elvis costume? Or did you have Stevie in mind for this one...

Erika - thank you :)

Postman - what I really love doing are edgy portraits. It's all about faces, expressions and the conveyence of moods

Pollinatrix - That's ok, I didn't think you were :)

Annie - I think you have to keep posting the shots you love on the site, otherwise it will just be swamped with landscapes and anyone wanting to do something different will wander away

Roschelle - the biggest problem with portraits is that for most people, unless they know the person photographed, it's not as engaging, whereas anyone can enjoy a landscape or wildlife photo

Emma - The landscapes keep me in practice when there aren't faces to photograph. I think I was just beginning to feel it was all about landscapes and I wasn't doing enough of the portraits I prefer doing

Pat - you're always so good for my ego :)

Allen - I would imagine it would be even more so in your line of character development

CG - it's good to hear you say that :)

Che - Naked Chick on a Harley!? Damn, I missed that one!

Mary - thank you :)

Sayre - no, I wouldn't go down the line of selling landscapes as bread and butter. If I was going to do that I may as well work for someone else and give up being self employed. And give up my soul in the process...

Tara Marie - to combine them both is the ideal :)

Katie - thank you for your comment on the Facebook version of this post too - it means a lot :)

Starrlife - it's not that I really dislike my landscape pics, it's just I fear them taking over when it's not the direction I intend to head in

Helen - It's not like I'm selling much in the way of Landscapes anyway, but I only want them to be a sideline at best, and not the main focus of my work

Mike - The first question is "who's paying and what's the budget?" You can get very creative professional photographers too - and these people really know what they're doing, but of course the best ones are more expensive. However, always check out the website of any photographer you are thinking about, and if possible talk to someone they have done work for before. Ultimately, though, do remember who's wedding it is - surely it is the bride and groom who should be able to choose the style they wish have their day recorded.

Cheri Pryor said...

Well, the images ARE lovely. But if it's not your passion, it's not your passion. Do what makes your heart sing. And if that's not landscapes, find what it is and snap away!

El-Branden Brazil said...

"The biggest problem with portraits is that for most people, unless they know the person photographed, it's not as engaging, whereas anyone can enjoy a landscape or wildlife photo."

I completely disagree, Kim. A good portrait can express deeply the story of someone's life and circumstances. Pick-up an issue of National Geographic, and you will find lots of portraits that will engage most people. Here's a very famous example:

I also recommend checking out the work of my good friend and mentor, Nomachi Kazuyoshi:

In another vein entirely, the work of Annie Leibovitz is brilliant and engaging portraiture.

Ron Tipton said...


I think there is room for both types of photography. Personally, I don't comment on portraits of people although I find some of them very interesting. However, I don't know these people personally so the pictures don't have the same effect on me as would a portrait picture of a personal friend or of relatives. However, landscape photography I will almost always make a favorable comment. I love landscapes. They take me away to a different place than my normal day to day experience. Pictures of people don't do that for me. And that's the way I see it Kim.


Kim Ayres said...

Cheri - I'm just in the process of putting up another post to show the kind of photos I really like taking :)

Branden - I missed out the caveat I usually include, which is about the subject being exotic. However, I've written a bit more about this in my next post, where I've also included a link to your site :)

Ron - I think that viewpoint is quite common, which is the point I was making :)

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