Some photographs are more equal than others.
Even two images that apparently look equally beautiful to the eye on the surface, might have a different emotional impact – for both the photographer and the viewer – for a number of reasons.
And an image that initially seems forgettable to most of us, might hold great resonance for someone else.
I’ve been thinking about the most important photograph of the year for me.
Whilst there have been many in black and white I’ve been very happy with, made with a handful of different cameras, the one that seems to be most significant so far is the one below.
It’s a very ordinary, perhaps throwaway photograph, the type that looks like it was probably only made to test whether a camera was working.
Which is exactly what it was!
But the camera I was testing was a Pentax K100D that I picked up for £26, and represented something of a homecoming to the kind of colour photography look I was greatly enjoying with similar Pentax DLSRs over two years previously.
This photograph – the first I made with it, and just in our back garden – showed me enough promise in its natural colour, the realistic sharpness of the flower (ie, it doesn’t look like a CGI flower created for a video game), and the quality of the bokeh in the background, to remind me how close I’d been to colour photography nirvana with my CCD sensor Pentax’s before.
Since, I’ve taken a hundred or more photos with the K100D that I greatly prefer.
But it was this one that gave me that first glimpse of colour photography straight out of camera I would love, picture after picture, without even a suggestion of a LightRoom preset or a Snapseed tweak in sight.
And, after a couple of years of shooting b/w almost exclusively, that makes it the most important photograph of the year.
How about you? Which has been your most important photograph of the year so far?
Please let us know in the comments below, and feel free to share a link to the photograph you’ve chosen. Don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow this conversation too.
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10 thoughts on “The Most Important Photograph Of The Year”
My most important photograph of the year hasn’t been taken yet. It’s the 2019 Christmas Picture. It’s the picture of me, my wife, our son, our daughter in law and our grandchildren that I try to take on Christmas Day, but it has sometimes been taken as early as mid November and as late as New Years Eve.
Ah, that’s a lovely answer. How long have you been taking such a picture Doug?
Importance for me is directly related to context. I have many important photos but each based on a different context. The shot that I took of my 98 year old mom with her hair tenderly braided and pinned in a small bun or down in a pony tail taken inApril(I love them both). She wasn’t feeling well on one Friday and by the next Saturday was in her bed and succumbed to an unknown cancer that night(June).
Secondly, it would be the shot I took of the Dallas skyline in May. The shot itself is nothing to look at as it was the wrong time of day but I was there for a reason. This photo marked 40 years to the month that I have been photographing the skyline, all on film.
Third would be the shots of my child on the last and the first day of school this fall. Started doing this at PreK and I’m past a decade now(also film).
I have others as well but each based on a different context. If you put me under a bare bulb though I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the images of my mom are at the top of the list at this time. I have lived enough life to know that this could all change tomorrow but this is today.
Bill, thank you for such a thorough and heartfelt reply.
Sorry to hear about your mum, those pictures must be even more special now.
40 years of film is amazing. Do you keep getting drawn back to the same places to photograph the skyline, or does it vary?
That’s a great tradition re photographing your child. What a fascinating series these pictures must make, do you look back across the ten years’ worth often?
When I read this on Saturday or Sunday morning I found it to be a wonderfully compelling, familiar idea you’ve framed here (particularly since I happened to be feeling like a sentimental fool at the time and just so you know I’m not projecting my squishy ideas about anything onto you, yourself being exceedingly thoughtful and rational as far as I can tell). Suffice to say I’ll be thinking about your points as I go through my catalog the next couple of days as coincidentally I’m starting to look more closely at images I’ve accumulated from summertime. My most important photographs have never necessarily been my “best”, I’ve been guilty for some time of happily operating to a fault from a very contextual point of view and luckily I’m overly secure in my substantial limitations and so it results in my enjoying the tension between my favorite and “best”. Suddenly everything I’ve just said makes no apparent sense but the gears are at least turning and that’s to count for at least one of your good deeds for the day, I think.
Thanks for your comments J. Well, most of the time I’m logical and rational, but I’m not immune to the occasional irrational flare up, or a few tears!
Glad that’s a good deed done!
I agree that the photographs that mean most to us aren’t necessarily the “best” to an outsider. And conversely I know in the past I’ve debated whether to share a particular photograph on my Flickr, unsure whether it makes the grade, then have had some glowing comments from others.
It’s all subjective, and even this changes with time. A photograph of an everyday object owned by a loved one might mean little at the time, but years later when for whatever reason they’re not around, it could become remarkably potent and precious…
idk about all the tech stuff but this photo definitely stands out. i especially like the subdued color in the background that sets off the flower perfectly. its a uncommon of common haha
Yes, it’s the way that background looks (the quality of both the colours and the blur) that made me smile about the possibility of this camera…
This year I’ve started chronicling the photos of my husband throughout his life up until his memorial. Very difficult and sad and beautiful and jubilant all at the same time. Photos are so much more than they seem. That photo of the flower is simple and joyful and, even though it was taken just to test a camera, is a testament to your talent.
Thanks Dale, and sorry about your husband. Even a single photograph can be incredibly powerful, and I find much more so if it’s a print rather than just in digital form on a screen.