What Is A Good Photograph?

My first instinctual answer to this question is that what constitutes a good photograph is going to be highly subjective.  If I look at a photograph and say “that is a good photograph”, does that mean that it is so?  Ultimately, I do believe that there is no one set of criteria that can render a photograph “good” since there will always be somebody who disagrees.

Flying Milk

However, there are some rules and suggestions that can dramatically improve your photography, and help you to make what most would consider “good” photographs.  These suggestions do not necessarily apply to all photographs, but they are a good starting point in my experience.   First, as I was taught, there are three fundamental guidelines to taking a good photograph, which are a very good starting point.

O caborteiro

1.  A good photograph has a clear subject

2.  A good photograph focuses attention on the subject

3.  A good photograph simplifies

You need to know what the subject is in every picture you take, and you need to think in terms of making sure that the viewer of your photograph knows it too.  In most photographs, there is one major subject of interest, which may be an object, person, or multiple things.

Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC

There are many ways to focus attention on the subject, such as subject size, placement, and selective focus, to name a few.

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Finally, to simplify a photograph, make sure there is nothing in the scene that takes the viewers attention away from the subject.  Ask yourself if you have eliminated all unwanted and/or distracting elements from the scene, prior to taking the picture.

Also, the subject and composition themselves need to be “interesting”.  Again, what is interesting is going to be highly subjective, and no two people are going to completely agree on what an interesting or good subject and composition really are.  This is where photography really becomes “art” and about self-expression.  Isn’t it grand that we are not all the same and that there isn’t a single standard for what constitutes a good photograph?


I would love to hear your opinions on this subject!


One Response to What Is A Good Photograph?

  1. Mark says:

    I have often wondered about what makes a good photo and as yet never read a full explanation, and as you rightly have said different people will nearly always have different opinions.
    I have enjoyed your site and found it very interesting, than you.
    My own opinion of a good photo is just the feeling it gives me when I first look at it after I shot it or when I look at someone else,s and wish I had taken it.

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