Friday, February 29, 2008

What is a "good photo"?

Let's say you took the following photo:
Would you consider this to be a good photo? Why or why not? Seriously consider this photo as if you had taken it. What would you try to improve on your next try?

Let's say this is your second try:
How do you think you did this time?

And your third try?

What about this one?

Do you consider any of the 4 to be "good"? On what basis?

Most of us decide what's "good" based on two things: What we've produced in the past, and what we've seen of other people's work. But how often do you seriously look at other people's work? Seeking out popular photos can not only give you ideas on things to try, but they'll also give you a more realistic idea of where you are at artistically with your photography. This is much more honest and easy to come by than most critique.

I find all of the above photos to be technically very good. I do, however, find a few minor issues in them: The first photo is nice, but the flower's a bit overexposed due to mid-day sun and the fence in the background definitely detracts from the flower. The second one was framed so that the flowers in the background create a purple backdrop that the subject just gets lost in. The third, is getting there, I like the feeling of it, but it's a bit underexposed and once again the background is distracting. I wish the leaves weren't cut off at the bottom as well. The fourth photo is pretty good. The color is great, the exposure is good, the background is not distracting, but it still lacks "wow factor".

Check out the photos below. Are they better? Why? What in particular do you like or dislike about them? Does looking at these change your opinions about the photos above?

This post, of course, is based on my own opinions. It would be much more meaningful for you to search Flickr yourself for images to use for ideas and inspiration or just browse Flickr Explore occasionally to see some random popular photos.

To sum up: I don't believe people are born with an eye for photography. It think it is developed by critically examining a few of the many images you come across every day. Even advertisements can be analyzed. This is a great way to practice when you don't have time to pick up your camera.

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