This is the first in a series I am writing about what makes a good photograph.
The answer to the question is complicated – it is nothing – everything – who knows? Good is in the eye of the beholder. Since I am writing this post, Ill mention something that in my mind helps create good a photograph. I think this is a wonderful exercise for every serious photographer. Ask yourself what you like about an image – any image and start keeping track of what resonates. Heres how I approached this task.
I started looking at some of my own images and tried to find the common denominator between the ones that I really liked. I kept some notes, and compared those images with images from other photographers who also had images I liked.While I could make a list of 1000 things – I’ll start with low-hanging fruit.
Light – particularly light and its interplay with shadow.Where light and shadow fall on your subject – that is the essence of expression and art through photography. For me, this interplay of light and shadow is probably the most compelling thing about photography. I don’t pretend to be a master of it. I merely study it relentlessly and try to grasp as much about it as my tiny brain can handle.
You can use light to draw attention to a certain portion of an image – you can use light and shadow to turn something into a graphic – you can use shadow to partially hide something in an image with the hope that the viewer will look harder at that area of the picture to try to find out whats missing.
In their simplest forms, light and shadow create tension in an image (see juxtaposition below) and that tension is one thing many art forms share, whether it be music, creative writing, sculpture or nearly any other kind of art, tension is a creative tool that draws people in.
That’s ONE thing that makes a good photograph.
So where does that leave us? Of course this isn’t the ONLY thing that make a good photograph, but I believe that if you can get a good foothold on this thing, you’ll be on the right track. Then you can pick another thing – and another thing – and another thing.I’ll write about this soon. In the mean time…Have fun out there.