What’s In A KISS

The Kiss © Knut Skjærven

The Kiss © Knut Skjærven

What’s in a KISS. Definitely quite a lot. Why would people go on talking about it and always return to it. Seems it has been around for a long time.

KISS is an abbreviation for Keep It Simple Stupid. More politely you phrase it KIS: Keep It Simple. Without the stupidity attached. Both ways will work, I am sure. But KISS gives better recall than KIS.

KISS is one of the basic recommendations for human communication. Being it textual communication, visual communication or any other form.

It works particularly well for photography. Even if each picture, they say, speaks a thousand words, these words are soon forgotten. If they are detected at all. You know how it is with reading: some do, some don’t. Reading visuals is no exception to this.

KISS is at the heart of gestalt psychology in that if you don’t communicate with simplicity, people will simple miss it.  Simple as that. People scan information for what is a sufficient level of understanding. No more is needed. Then on to the next piece of information.

As you never get a second chance to give a first impression, you better be careful. Your fine street work will sooner be forgotten than remembered.

Advertising research and marketing people say the same: Keep It Simple Stupid. In their book: Persuasion in Marketing, Horace S. Schwerin and Henry H. Newell states among their seven fundamentals three that are of particular concern here: One Unified Impression, Dominant Mood, and The Simple Truth.

Not that what are musts in advertising should blindly be applied to street photography. But if communication is at stake there are lessons to be learned. Yet another tool for the toolbox, which means that you use it when it is due. It needs to be there though.

In street photography KISS has to do what with what is in your picture, how well you control background and foreground, economising with content in general, camera setting, and of course how and what you render in your work, and how well you do it.

These are obvious things when you speak them like here, but not so obvious when you try to do them.

Good luck with keeping it simple :-).

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen, May 26, 2013.


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