Why 100% Sharpness Will Never Outdo Capturing the Moment

Pro Tip: Despite the fact that we all love bokeh, don't ever let it get in the way of good composition and an even better vision for the end result.

Pro Tip: Despite the fact that we all love bokeh, don’t ever let it get in the way of good composition and an even better vision for the end result.

At the moment of publishing this piece, there is a little phenomenon going around the internet. Actually, it’s a pretty big phenomenon. It’s one that has, “Broke the internet.” You know what we’re talking about. The image of Kim Kardashian’s bare butt on a magazine cover is making its rounds. And this image is the absolute perfect example for what we’re about to talk about: moment vs 100% sharpness.

The other day I was in a cafe chatting with another photographer. He was rushing out edits to a magazine and I was editing photos for a review before trying to upload them to our site. We both occasionally peered over to one another’s monitors and started a conversation about gear, which then turned into a conversation about business, editing, and imagery in general.

We talked about how crappy images are crappy images because they don’t elicit an emotion or appeal to a sense of any sort. Imagery is sensual–it’s primarily visual but a good image should be more than that. A great image of sushi for example should entice you, make you hungry, make you want some of that sushi. It should get you excited or elicit some sort of emotion. If it doesn’t elicit any emotion, it should move you in some way that appeals to the human senses or psyche.

We got to a point where we talked about one of the images and color tweaking. Then we talked a bit about sharpness, and on one of his images he said something that we’ve been preaching on this site since day 1.

“Who cares if it isn’t 100% sharp, it’s going online and will probably be no larger than 1000 pixels anyway.”

And he’s absolutely, completely right.

Who the heck cares if your image of the amazing mac and cheese that you just made isn’t 100% sharp. Is it sharp enough so that when someone looks at the image as a whole that they can see the details? If that’s the answer, then you’re golden.

Who the heck cared a single bit about looking at the image of Kim Kardashian’s rear at 100%? Was anyone really wondering if there was chromatic aberration or purple fringing or if they could see the pores? Not a single person was–and instead they cared about the entire image.

And so when someone says that an image isn’t 100% sharp, if it’s sharp enough then that’s all that matters. If your focusing is a bit off but not so much that you can’t tell, then who cares? Focus on captivating people instead with a moment.