What makes a photograph 'good'?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dmp, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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    Often I see people online posting photos of sunsets, flowers, bees, kids, and what not. Many times people toss up very generous praise - GREAT Photo! is the most common.

    (break/break)

    I enjoy photography - and picture-taking. At the risk of sounding snobish, there are fewer photographers than picture-takers around. A photographer takes a photo with motivation and direction in mind. I'd say a photographer starts out trying or wanting to take a 'great photo!', and succeeds. A Picture-Taker simply points a camera at a subject and snaps the shutter. This is NOT to say one is better than the other, or perhaps one can't be both - depending on the cirumstances. I figure I'm somewhere in the middle. There are times when I set out with the goal of coming back with a 'great photo!'. There are times when I'm too tipsy to care. Through it all, however, I have a couple guidelines I instinctively follow.

    1) Composition. The technical stuff - shutter speeds, colors, blah, blah blah be damned - if a photo isn't well composed it cant be fixed very easily (if at all) with Photoshop. :) How well does the subject of the photo communicate or contrast it's surroundings? Does the photo's subject 'matter' in relation to the rest of the pic? Does the photo have ballance? Does the photo need LESS balance-for-effect?

    2) Perspective. Great. You took a photo of a sunset. Or a flower. Or a tree. Does the photo pass the 'so, what?' test? Are you looking at anything in a way which you hadn't before? Does the subject of the photo present itself to a new idea, or relate to it's surrounds in a way not normally seen?

    For the record - Black and White photos aren't automatically 'art'. Tilting the camera at an odd angle doesn't automatically mean your photo is 'artsy' or 'edgy'. Blurry doesn't mean 'abstract'.

    Few examples:

    OBVIOUSLY this photo is AMAZING and worthy of the Louve.

    http://www.photographyblog.com/gallery/data/506/4135P7279789.jpg

    This one too!

    http://www.photographyblog.com/gallery/data/506/631sabi-und-sabrina-2.jpg


    :)

    Not 'GREAT Photo!'
    Looky here:
    http://www.photographyblog.com/gallery/data/506/3854photographers_eye-med.jpg

    Pretentious. It's just a pic of somebody taking a pic of herself.

    'Pretty-Good Photo!'

    http://www.photographyblog.com/gallery/data/506/1915sam.jpg

    Look at sam's face. Emotion. Is he happy to finally have his dad back? Is he sad that his Dad may leave? Did he just fall and scrape his knee? That pic 'speaks'. Is Sam just tired after a long day? Some say the man's arm distracts...I want a photo to make me 'feel' something, so I tend to weigh 'feeling' over 'technical goodness' of a photo.

    Not 'Great Photo!'
    http://www.photographyblog.com/gallery/data/506/3162Rachel_10_psd-med.jpg

    Wow. A chick doing a silly pose. I get the feeling she's trying too hard. (yawn).


    'Great Photo!'...yes...i know...just cuz it's really cute...

    http://www.photographyblog.com/gallery/data/506/644v.jpg

    But more than just being cute, does anyone else get a sense of 'wonder'? That pic captured an emotion with its taking. Yes, the baby musta been born without a left hand...still, this pic's 'wonder' overshadows composition, imo.

    Yes - Yes...In the eye of the beholder..sure. However, 'GREAT Photos!' should be reserved for photos which speak to you. Photos which 'mean something'.
     
  2. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    Photography is one of my lifelong part time hobbies. I love it, and agree with what you said (I didn’t look at the links).

    I’ve never been a snap-shot person but, what I love most now is digital. Damn, snap away with no costs to worry about.
     
  3. Abbey Normal
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    Abbey Normal Senior Member

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    The one of the boy lying on his dad's arm (?) is the most evocative, therfore, IMO is the "best" photo of the bunch.

    D, all those photos and not one rx-8 among them? Shocked, I tell you, shocked!
     
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  4. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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  5. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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  6. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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    That's lighting/shadow mixed with a bit of female bulge. :) She does NOT have a pecker.

    I hope. :D
     
  7. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    I think "HE" does. :eek:
     
  8. manu1959
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    manu1959 Left Coast Isolationist

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    crop out the girl in the back ....fix the lighting.....convert to balck and white and you may have something
     
  9. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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    Not even.
     
  10. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    Really?LOL...Hey, years ago I worked with a "Guy" that looked just like that,
    you'd have never known, until. :eek2:
     

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