Skip to main content

What makes a great photograph great?


What makes a great photograph great? Now there's a big question. I bet if you asked 20 curators and 20 photographers that question you'd get a different answer from all of them.

I will try to distil the answer. You tell me if it resonates with what you feel and think too.

The usual text book answers to what makes a good photograph revolve around the composition, the lighting, colour, the action in the photograph, the content, story and emotion, but we all know that technically perfect photos, even of great subjects, can be uninspiring and uninteresting.

I think a great photograph goes beyond the individual elements. The sum is greater than the components.

All the elements work together, and as you look, something deeply personal unlocks in your brain. You have this moment when everything connects and makes sense. You go 'aha' I see it. You identify with the subject.

If you don't get that feeling from a photograph then it is just another snapshot.

Creating great images starts with the photographer setting out with a purpose and ends with audience understanding and sharing that purpose. When we recognise ourselves in the image we experience a powerful visceral effect.

For me that feeling comes from seeing how all the elements connect with each other, have a reason for being there, and help to tell the story. Beauty is indeed within the eye of the beholder.

As a photographer you have to ask yourself why am I taking this image. What am I seeing that is exciting my brain? And then you have to distil those answers down to their absolute essence within the frame, discarding anything that is not strictly relevant, anything that does not add to the image, and does not contribute to connecting all the elements together.

What do you think?

Thanks,
Paul Indigo
www.indigo2photography.com


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The art of writing a caption

A caption in its simplest form is the the title of an image but usually we mean a bit more. A full caption takes the form of descriptive text, usually a few sentences.

A good caption informs us about the things we cannot see and encourages us to look at an image more closely. There is a relationship of mutual benefit and dependence between a well written caption and an image. The caption can bring an image to life by providing context and meaning. It is also the link between the article/story/text and the image.

Magda Indigo has written a good description of a caption here. I agree with her dislike of "untitled". It does show a certain lack of imagination and is not particularly helpful to the viewer. Creating an image is all about trying to communicate something and the caption is vital to help the audience understand an image. It can hugely enhance the viewers experience.

A good caption is a piece of writing that should be concise, accurate, informative and as carefully craft…

All the different types of photography

Welcome to my blog. While you're here why not browse through my extensive library of articles covering everything from tips on how to do things photographic to help with the mental approach you need to become a successful photographer. You'll also find articles with some of my unconventional views. Yes, I've rattled a view cages in my time. Hope you have as much fun reading them as I did writing them.

You can view my more serious work on www.indigo2photography.co.uk

All the different types of photography

With the help of acquaintances on a photographic site I've tried to compile a list of all the different types of photography out there. I'm sure there are many still missing but the list is pretty impressive so far. We have identified around 80 descriptions.

For fun I've highlighted in bold the different types I've done so far...

3D photography
Action photography
Advertising photography
Aerial photography
Amateur photography
Animal photography
Architecture photography

Is professional photography still a viable career?

I am not against amateurs and semi-professionals selling their photography. It's a great way to earn some extra cash. However I am concerned about the level of high quality published work and the standards that clients and the public accept these days.

It seems that just about everyone is a photographer. The line between amateur enthusiast and professional is fuzzy to say the least.

Photography enthusiasts are selling their images through stock libraries and microstock websites, directly to magazines or through their own and third party sites. They're accepting commissions to shoot weddings, being hired to shoot for magazines and selling fine art prints from their websites. They're teaching photography on the weekend and guiding photographic holidays and safaris.

Photography became accessible to the masses with the first non-expert cameras and the famous Kodak slogan"You press the button, we do the rest." The digital camera age has taken the whole thing to a new …