Great photography is what catches your eye, it stops you in your tracks, and makes you frame a photograph and hang it in your house house. What is it that makes a photograph great?
5 Elements of Great Photography
What makes great photography is not a result of the camera or the post production tools, but is a result of you, the photographer.
Harness these elements of great photography properly and you’ll succeed in creating some powerful images that delight and wow. The tricky part is, actually, getting all these things to work together at the same time – let’s find out what they are and how you can use them to create some great photography of your own.
Without great composition the most technically correct photograph can miss the mark. Composing with purpose means that you are thinking about the entire scene as a whole. It means that not only are you deciding what to include within the frame, but what not to include at the same time.
By choosing with intention what the viewer of your photograph will see you are conveying your mood and enhancing the story you want to tell through this image.
There is a reason why many great photographs are taken during the golden hours of the day. The right light is super important!
Light is responsible for the creating drama, it sets the mood, the tone, creates tension, and helps to tell your story.
Have you ever thought “This is going to be an awesome photograph” only to get home and realize that it just didn’t capture the moment that you had witnessed? Odds are pretty good the reason this didn’t work is that the light that you saw in person didn’t translate well when captured by the camera.
Dramatic lighting is a difficult element of great photography to master. You truly have to start “start seeing the light” to know how to use it properly within your vision, once you learn this skill, you’ll never look at photography the same again.
People spend their days walking around on two feet and as a result we have a good grasp on what the world looks like from that perspective. Therefore taking a photograph from traditional eye level is often not all that interesting to a viewer of an image.
A well composed, technically perfect photograph, taken during dramatic lighting, shot at eye level will often fails to hit the mark. The reason? The photograph just looks too common to the average viewer.
To solve this problem of perspective you’ll have to force yourself to get above your subject, close to your subject, or below your subject. You’ll want to do whatever you can to photograph it from a different perspective than you’d normally see it from. If you can do this during dramatic lighting and with great composition you’re truly almost there.
[Check Out: Phogropathy’s The World Around Us – an eBook designed to challenge you towards great photography techniques]
Compelling subject matter
Photography has become somewhat of a commodity these days. With everyone having a camera in their pocket it seems like it’s impossible to find something unique to photograph. This makes great photography even more difficult to create. To do so you must find truly compelling subject matter to showcase.
If you’re taking a photograph of a bird in your backyard, what is it about this bird that’s unique? What is it about the photograph that you’ve captured that makes this bird stand out? Maybe you’re taking a photograph of sunset – don’t fall into the trap of becoming part of the sunset paparazzi – there’s more to sunset than the colors.
How do you find compelling subject matter when the world seems to be recording it’s every waking second? Part of this revolves around luck – you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time. Of course, there’s part of it that revolves around skill and preparedness as well. The more you go out, the more you stay on top of your skills as a photographer and the more you’re ready to go when the moment strikes the better off you’ll be.
Thoughtful post production
Finally, you have to bring home your image with thoughtful post production. Your post production should compliment the image you’ve captured, not overburden it.
Much like how you should compose with purpose – post production should be done with intent.
Great photography often doesn’t need a big push in post production to get it to the next level. You don’t want to be trying to fix mistakes, or hide errors because you can, you want to be emphasizing the moment, bringing out the mood, and enhancing the story you’re trying to tell.
[Watch: Let’s Edit Series]
Great photography isn’t easy
The idea of this article is simply to get you thinking about what makes a photograph great. That way you can go about incorporate those ideas into the photographs you take. We live in a world where photography is no longer a unique and magical thing.
Great photographs don’t happen all the time, this is what makes them great. If it were easy to capture interesting perspectives, and unique subjects, then there wouldn’t be any challenge or adventure to going out with your camera.
However, keeping these elements of great photography in the back of your mind, you’ll at least be prepared to strike the shutter when the opportunity does present itself to you.