What makes a great picture?

ashelton80December 7, 2007

This may be dumb but its something i was curious about...and thought it may be interesting to get others input.

What is it that makes a great picture to you?

To me a good picture is visually appealing...but a GREAT picture is one that, alongside visual appeal, appeals to my other senses as well...being able to "hear" crashing waves, "feel" warm sun or a cold day...ones that can almost take you to the place and time of the photo. Also the ones that capture an emotion so well that you feel as if you're sharing it with the subject(s).

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You're right, those are intangible, too, so kind of hard to know if you captured it, until you see the picture.
I think lighting is VERY important.
Some photos just set a certain mood, more of that intangible stuff. Some photos evoke happiness, sadness. Sometimes, you have to keep going back and looking at it over and over, because something in the picture attracts you.
I think that's probably more important than the "rules", like the rule of thirds. That might make the eye happy, but some pictures make the soul happy.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 7:16AM
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My only suggestion to folks who might want to capture "great pics" is to start looking and slow down enough to find them. My technical skills as a photographer are very average at best, but, the wonderful thing is technology evens that out AND there are simply so many wonderful and interesting sights around us in this terrific world we have been given. We just have to slow down enough to "see" what we might be lucky, or for some, good enough to capture in our cameras.

I suspect that the old saying: "the harder I work the luckier I get" applies to getting great photos as well... although I currently subscribe more to the quantity approach wherein even a blind hog finds an acorn occaisionally. ;)

And, the good news is that the saying I heard about gardening applies equally to photography: "Gardeners are like doctors, they bury their mistakes."

The last picture I posted here was taken beside an interstate highway with hundreds zipping by too hurried or too uninterested to see the beautiful scene right beside them.

I think that is why I have come to enjoy picture taking, it encourages me to slow down and notice the interesting and beautiful things around us all the time.

Now if I would just bite the bullet and buy the latest technology in whizbang cameras, I could really have something to show for the effort. Ha.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 7:35AM
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IMHO, it must be technically perfect. It must portray an interesting subject, convey a mood or tell a story that has meaning to a broad range of people.

A really good photo evokes some form of emotional associations within the viewers. Like music or paintings, it's all about how it makes us feel.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 8:38AM
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A "great" photograph is one that has wide-spread appeal and stands the test of time.
A "technically perfect" photo is not always a great photo, as evidence by the work of Harry Callahan.
Many great photographs work well in spite of the rules not because of them.
To be obedient to the rules can sometimes stifle creativity.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 1:56PM
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abr4xii, what rules are you referring to? I guess I didn't know anyone made rules about great photos.

'Technically perfect' to me basically means no inferior photos due to poor lens quality or shaking camera blur. I've seen good pictures taken with cheap throw away cameras, but maybe not great ones.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 5:15PM
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I was referring to the basic rules that every beginner hears.

The rule of thirds.
Subjects should always be entering the frame, never exiting it
The rule of "active space"
Horizons should never run through the middle of a photo...and so on.

I think too many take these as gospel instead of guidelines.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 6:28PM
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For me, everything that I look at is a picture. I first try to balance the photo, so that there is not too much of what you want the viewer to see, off to one side of your photo. A tree on one side of the photo needs to have something on the opposite side to 'balance' the photo.

Deciding whether it is a 'great' picture and actually worth taking is just an opinion. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the camera holder, oops, I mean beholder.

I personally like to take photos of nature, and I do NOT like to have eyesores such as a telephone pole or a graded road in the photo. The best nature photos are the ones that show a scene that although it might have been taken yesterday, it shows how it could have looked thousands of years ago.

However, some manmade things, such as an old rustic barb wire fence in the foreground, or a windmill in the background can make the photo.

So, what I think makes a great photo, is one that shows whatever it is that you are trying to capture, without getting 'trash' in the photo.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 8:59PM
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A great photo; to me or to you?
For me - one that captures the moment, stirs emotion - technically perfect or not. For example, the is nothing technically right about the picture below. I love it!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 10:36PM
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haha, love her expression, and the "motion".

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 4:02AM
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yes that is a great photo as it made me think of my kids and I smiled...thus it was a success...c

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 11:42PM
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