Little experiment. I'm putting up an image I like that I shot a while back. There's a lot "technically" wrong with the execution. The black tones are blocked up so much that you can't really see any separation between Lou's arm and the rest of her black sweater. Even the watchband soaks into the surrounding black. The highlight on her left cheek (to the right of the frame) is burned out. The contrast is high. Her posture is hunched over. She is not smiling a vapid, empty smile. Who in the last 20 years would pose someone with their chin resting on their hand? Why didn't I just take the watch off? Was it a mistake to leave the little shadow over on the bottom left hand of the frame? The background lighting is mottled and not smooth. The edges of the frame wouldn't be considered sharp on any planet. There's not enough separation in her hair. Who in the world thought the shadow to the right of her nose was appropriate? Etc.
And yet, it is one of my favorite portraits and, when shown as a print in my portfolio it is one of the ones clients reference as a style they'd like to pursue for their projects.
Is it a success or a failure? Would knowing which lens or camera it was taken with make any difference in your opinion? Would the original reason for us taking the image make a difference in your evaluation? Should it have been in color? Should it have been in a rectangle? Does the composition violate the "golden mean?" Have we followed or made a mockery of the rule of thirds?
Just curious to know what you think... If you have an opinion...