My favorite design principle is that when you do something odd, make sure that your viewer doesn't think that it was a “mistake.” This is best illustrated by an example. In the left figure the viewer will notice that the blocks are not perfectly aligned. They might assume that this is because I was too lazy, or unskilled, to get it right.
In the figure on the right the blocks are still not aligned. However the contrast is so great that it is clear that I did it on purpose.
This is the principle I use when judging focus in my photographic images.
One of my early photography teachers was totally obsessed with focus. She would say that if an image wasn't pin sharp, nothing else mattered. That often applies when I evaluate my images. Consider the image to the left
You may have noticed that the image is a little soft. It is subtle, you may not be able to see it on your monitor (maybe it is more noticeable in the closeup. But when the mother ordered a print, she said that it gave her a headache.
The question is, “Do you think that I intentionally made it soft?”
I am not sure if it was due to camera shake or poor focusing, but it was not intentional.
You might not like the images below any better than the “soft” baby, but at least you can tell that I did it intentionally. Hopefully you will question my artistic vision rather than my photographic skills. One question that I am asked when showing these images is, “Was this done in camera? or photoshop?” I will save the answer to this question for a separate post. (click any of these thumbnails for a closer look or a slide show)