What Makes a Great Photo?

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"A photo with very poor composition will fall apart and never be a great photo" - is this not some attempt a universal truth ?
No, it's not a universal truth in the context that we're discussing. Moreover, while I do feel (in disagreement with you) that a great photo requires a great composition, I don't feel that all photos with a great composition are great photos.

Using the example of the photo you described, though a photo made that way could have huge importance going far beyond whether or not it is a great photo, that still in itself doesn't make it a great photo. Lots of forensic photos are hugely important without being great photos.
 
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I think there are certain elements that can lead to creating a great photograph. One interesting take on this comes from Jay Maisel...he says great photographs have three elements: Light, Gesture and Color. I have watched some of Jay's tutorial videos on this topic...very informative IMO. I plan to read his book soon--"Light, Gesture and Color".

More on Gesture:

Glenn
 
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Random thoughts....

This article was about great images, not point-n-shoot quickies posted to get "likes" or images that are routinely seen. LOL!

I believe photography (i.e. great images) is a communicative art. And that the photographer should have reason for taking the image and sharing it with others. And that the photographer is generally trying to elicit a reaction from the viewer such as awe, an emotion, insight, or spur the viewer to action.

Thus I think each factor applies to every image. The selection of shutter speed and when to click the shutter are also an aspects of "timing" in landscape, street photography, wildlife, portraits, etc.

A great image - IMHO - does require processing to communicate what the photographer is trying to communicate. That processing may be minimal or dramatic. It depends on what vision the photographer has for that image. That may not be a xerox copy of reality. And as such, may not be admired by everyone.
Very well put, totally agree.
 
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I think it is a photograph in which the photographer effectively communicates his message (the reason for taking the exposure) to the viewer. As Maisel says...a picture with “gesture”—ideally with effective use of light and color (or lack thereof).

Glenn
Not picking on your post Glenn, it’s just the 1st reply.

You think, exactly my point.
So if a lot of people ‘like’ a photo for the same reason or any reason then that group of people thinks it’s a great photo. No formulas just humans looking at pictures. Now I agree that we can find common attributes to pictures people like and suggest that’s what makes a great photo, but I’m not sure.
 
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Not picking on your post Glenn, it’s just the 1st reply.

You think, exactly my point.
So if a lot of people ‘like’ a photo for the same reason or any reason then that group of people thinks it’s a great photo. No formulas just humans looking at pictures. Now I agree that we can find common attributes to pictures people like and suggest that’s what makes a great photo, but I’m not sure.
It's true that there's a great deal of subjectivity involved here. If there was an easy formula for how to create great photos, the world would be filled with world-class photographers!

Glenn
 
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the world would be filled with world-class photographers!
And what a boring world it would be!

Certainly the skill of a person is probably more important than the "greatness" of the equipment in making consistently great photographs, but what is it that a skilled photographer manipulates, considers, evaluates, etc?
Moment (timing), composition, light, story and processing are all boxes of tools (NOT rules) that we have at out disposal. How we use those tools, and which tools we use in each case is what this is about. The compromises we make as part of our decision making process. Some of you are methodical, others so very practiced. Some really, really know their equipment, others have patience to hold on for the decisive moment. And so on.
 
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And what a boring world it would be!

Certainly the skill of a person is probably more important than the "greatness" of the equipment in making consistently great photographs, but what is it that a skilled photographer manipulates, considers, evaluates, etc?
Moment (timing), composition, light, story and processing are all boxes of tools (NOT rules) that we have at out disposal. How we use those tools, and which tools we use in each case is what this is about. The compromises we make as part of our decision making process. Some of you are methodical, others so very practiced. Some really, really know their equipment, others have patience to hold on for the decisive moment. And so on.
Very well said
 
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I think it is a photograph in which the photographer effectively communicates his message
I think that's true but only to a point. Perhaps Ansel Adams is the most famous photographer to have outwardly stated that he can't control what others see in his images. If that's the case (and I agree that it is), the photographer's control is limited when it comes to effectively communicating the intended message.

As blatant examples, I've made photos of objects that were criticized for their perspective distortion when there was none. It was the viewers' ignorance about the shape of the objects that led them to inaccurately perceive the distortion.
 
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As blatant examples, I've made photos of objects that were criticized for their perspective distortion when there was none. It was the viewers' ignorance about the shape of the objects that led them to inaccurately perceive the distortion.
You need to update your equipment to include the new SC and ID lens coatings. That's Stupidity Control and Ignoramus Defeat, in case you were wondering :LOL:

I have to agree with your, pardon the pun, perspective on what viewers bring to the table. We can only control them when we can "speak" to them directly via a lecture, discussion, written narrative and so on. The picture itself, as you have discovered, is often in a different language than they speak!
When others don't appreciate my best work, I live with it. But when they go gaga apesh*t over my bad stuff, I shake my head in disbelief. :mad:
 
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I remember a while back I took a photo of people posing in front of a vandalized business after a riot. The photo made the news, but some self proclaimed wise men here didn't like it because one of the subject's pants were clipped. I still get a good laugh everytime I think about that.
 
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The photo made the news, but some self proclaimed wise men here didn't like it because one of the subject's pants were clipped.
The concern about that sort of thing absolutely baffles me. I suppose part of the concern is a stylistic thing; clipping people's extremities, especially their feet, was commonly done in previous decades that wouldn't be acceptable now. So, when we consider the composition, do we say that a photo that clipped a person's feet could not be a great photo?
 
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So, when we consider the composition, do we say that a photo that clipped a person's feet could not be a great photo?
In my instance it was about "shadow clipping". The person totally disregarded the subject matter and took issue with the lack of shadow detail. I suspect he has zero chance of ever launching a photo-journalistic career.
 

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