I did a favour for a couple of friends and took some photos for one of them, at the other one's 60th birthday party.
I spent the next two weeks processing the photos, and gave them to both the organiser and the birthday woman.
When the organiser asked me what had been involved in the processing, I pulled out my laptop from which I do all my work, and showed her the difference between the image SOOC and the image with a bit of contrast, and brightness adjustment.
Since Photoshop keeps any changes that were made to the RAW file, in an XMP file, and opens up the image to the way it was when I had finished all the PP - it seemed sensible not to open an image I'd already processed to do the demo for her, but rather to open one of the images I'd rejected, and work on that, as it would still open up pretty much as it was SOOC.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of mentioning to her, that I would have to open "one I rejected" because it wouldn't have remembered the PP done to it.
I opened it, and promptly did a few quick contrast and brightness adjustments, and a basic sharpen, then turned preview on and off a few times to show her the difference. She was dutifully impressed, but then asked me why on earth had I rejected the shot and not included it in the ones that I gave her.
I explained that there were two main faults: Firstly, the light coming in one far window had blown out and I found the bright white in that small section of the image distracting, she said she barely noticed that until I mentioned it, because it was a window in the background, and to her wasn't really significant in the photo. When she asked the second reason, I knew I was in trouble, because the second reason I'd rejected that shot was because I had cut part of the foot off a person that was off to one side of the image, but had not been able to crop that person out of the image, so the missing foot annoyed me, even though they were an insignificant part of the background.
She looked at me as though I was making fun of her when I said that was the reason. She looked as though she was trying to work out if I was pulling her leg or serious, but embarrassingly I was actually serious. I had rejected the shot for that reason.
I then thought about the fact that I'd previously been given that same look when I showed a mate some pics I'd taken of the moon rising over a nearby mountain while I had been camping with him the weekend before, and when I showed him one I had rejected because there was no empty space below his foot - his foot was hard against the bottom edge of the image, when normally it's preferable to have some empty space between someone and the edge of the shot - he gave me that same, "you're freaking kidding me, you rejected this shot because of THAT?" type of look and asked me to give HIM a copy of the shot because it was good enough for HIS standard, and emphasised the words like he thought my standards were ridiculous.
I'm starting to fear that the more exposure (pardon the pun) that I get to critiquing photos, the more overly fussy I become about what I keep and what I reject.
The lady for whom I took the 60th birthday shots then asked to see what else I'd rejected, and found quite a few she really wanted me to add to the already over 200 shots I'd thought worth keeping, as the reasons that I'd rejected them weren't even things she knew about, let alone been things that would have worried her in the shots. They'd probably only be noticed if I'd put the shots up in a competition for judging.
So can it end up that the more we learn about what makes a "great photo", the more we risk becoming too perfectionist? Perhaps discarding photos that really could or should be kept?
I'm thinking, that for me personally, it seems that I may have swung too far the one way in my progress from beginner to whatever, and that I might now need to swing back a bit and be a little less fussy for general purpose photography. Am I the only one now TOO fussy, or so fussy that friends think me nuts?