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'.