There’s no Accounting for Taste

Mrs Browns Boys just won its fifth comedy award at the National Television Awards, beating critically acclaimed comedy by Phoebe Waller-Bridges Fleabag, and Ricky Gervais’ dark comedy After Life.

I haven’t actually seen afterlife yet, but i have watched and re-watched Fleabag. In my opinion, Fleabag is a comedy drama so paradoxically pure, heartbreaking and hilarious; at times beautiful whilst being so raw and unpolished that you almost want to look away. This was objectively one of the best pieces of television in the last several years.

How this masterpiece of british television was trumped at the awards by Mrs Browns Boys, a british comedy following a Pantomime-Dame-esque character and her family. I’m not here to bash Mrs Browns Boys, as many sharp-tongued critics have much more eloquently done, but it is worth mentioning that the Mrs Browns Boys humour loosely positions itself somewhere between The Carry On franchise, and Jackass, like classroom humour for the Boomers.

It is also worth mentioning that The National Television Awards are voted for by the british public (as was Brexit), and you may be wondering what this has to do with photography or the creative industries?

My point here is that the vast majority of the general public do not actually care if something is well made, critically acclaimed or woke. There is no accounting for taste, and people will like what they like regardless of whether it is objectively and critically terrible. Mrs Browns Boys is the christmas cracker joke of british television.

Taste is very personal, and what works for one client will not work for another. One mans trash is another mans gold… or something to that effect. All we can do as freelancers is gently steer clients towards industry standards, widely accepted guidelines and general aesthetic rules. But when it comes down to it, the client is always correct, even when what they want is not what you, the freelancer, thinks looks good.

Most people do not analyse WHY they like an image (or don’t)… The lighting, retouching, model, setting, the cultural and social nuances, colour palette, composition…. the list could go on forever… all building blocks of a finished product which one person may look at and say “i don’t like it because it is bad.” or “I like it because it’s good”. Or my absolutely least favourite that secretly makes me want to scream into a pillow… “it looks nice”. NICE. The most banal of compliments known to man.

So if someone doesn’t like your work, then dont worry about it too much. And if someone does, then great… But in short – there’s no accounting for taste, and there’s nowt so queer as folk.

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