After all it's usually a question about what we find pleasing to the eye at the time, or it's the way we may or may not interact with the snap in some kind of (good or bad) way because of the strings hit inside each and every one of us.
And it's all about the end result. About the picture itself, as a whole.
To me there's something about the way the picture is able to tell it's inner story. This story can (in theory) be told through the order of pixels coming out of a digital camera, as well as through the imprint on a strip of film from the analogue equivilant. At least that's my starting point of view before I go on.
Still it seems to be a fact that each time we pick up a pixelator, our minds change completely about what's making a good snap and what's not. A lot of us (and myself very much included) seems to become pixel peepers, checking for the slightest proof of a sensor not behaving the correct way, color fringes and disturbances or (God forbid) the slightest sign of unsharpness somewhere far out in the corners of the picture.
What happens next is that what originally might have been a great snap is suddenly sort of reduced to an object (even though it's not an object in the true meaning of the word) consisting of a myriad of microscopic points, each being a possible subject to close technical inspection and examination.
We suddenly find ourselves jumping straight into the pit, dug out a long time ago by the different camera companies for one reason only.
It's all becoming a chase for numbers, and who's got the camera able to handle the biggest amount of 0's and 1's without getting lost in the process.
If we really look into it I would very much think we have reached the limit long ago when it comes to what people really need to snap a good frame of the Christmas dinner or whatever. I mean, every granny of today probably owns at least one camera a million times "better" than the old things a few of us still prefere to use.
We sometimes seem to forget the simple fact that when looking at a printed picture on the wall, it's something you're supposed to look at from a certain distance. This distance depends more or less only on the size of the print and the clarity of your old eyes. It's nothing you should ever need to use a magnifying glass to look at.
Looking at pictures on a computer screen inside our own living rooms seems to bring out the digital magnifying glass tool quite often, and the basic reason for looking at the picture has suddenly sort of disappeared.
That's one of the reasons I like film better, and also one of the reasons I think film is a better place to be. Because there are no such things as pixels or numbers or crop factors. Only the picture itself.
It's organic and sort of "alive" and three dimensional. It's a physical object for me to hold between my fingers and shine light through and look at, and the final printed image is nothing I have to examine down to the finest detail for errors and flaws, because I know there's a lot of them in there anyway.
Adding to that, different types of film behave and looks different to the others, and they also behave a bit different according to how you decide to develop them. The different lenses we use can sometimes also play their own little tiny part of the final symphony, but the camera itself is very rarely a big contributor to the final result unless we are talking about things like light leaks and other individual artifacts of that particular item.
On the final analogue print I can cover up and hide the most obvious dust and cat hairs, but they will still be in there somewhere, even though they have become more or less invisible. Still they don't add or subtract important things to or from the story itself, either they are hidden or not.
Because when looking at a print on the wall we should look at the print to see the whole picture and the entire story, and we should watch the flow and dynamics and the interaction between light and shadows. We should definitely not look in the corners for any signs of unintended vigneting or unsharp parts. That's never going to make or break a great snap anyway. Ever.
When I'm dealing with digital pictures on a screen I seem to totally forget the most basic idea about it all, even though the starting point always is something I recon to be a good picture. Then I can use a lot of time on the computer editing, only to end up with a crappy result in the end. And I don't think I'm alone.
To me, photography sometimes really manifests itself as a pure and beautiful form of art I can deal with and understand. And to me, art is stuff that makes one or many of my inner strings start vibrating in some kind of way when hit by the nerve of what I see or hear.
I never seem to get hit by anything good when zooming in at pixels on a computer screen. Sometimes something hits me when looking at the whole big picture on my screen though, and quite often this will have nothing to do with a minor lack of sharpness or slight errors made deep inside a light sensitive digital sensor.
I very often find smoothness and lovely transitions between light and shadow, or beautifully rendered colours and scenes telling an important story, to be a lot more effective in that respect than sharpness and the amount of pixels ever will.