What Makes a Great Photo?

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This is a great picture - could look at it for ages - the way it is lit that shows off the colours and the curves.

To illustrate a point - this picture ticks all technical criteria - composition, lighting and so on. And yet most people just see a motorcycle, for which they are completely uninterested.

It seems that more people (probably) would rather think that some gnarly bit of wood, or a picture of flaking paint, or maybe of a model in some pose taken in some bleak disused warehouse, would better qualify as a Great Photo - not in this house it doesn't !

So perhaps you should show us Your idea of a Great Photo - here's my entry !

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I think that any "answer" to this question depends, in part, on the purpose of the image and the intended audience. Photography is a visual language (borrowing from Ernst Haas and others) and it can be used to communicate in different ways. How I view, and my expectations from, a landscape photo in comparison to an image from a photojournalist are often quite different. Sure, I am still considering the five factors that the author mentions in his article, but the balance between them may vary. And, some types of photography allow us to have greater control over the five factors than others. For example, the things I am looking for (technically and emotionally) in a Robert Capa photo are very different from what I would be seeking in a landscape image from Michel Kenna or a studio portrait from Irving Penn.

In sum, I do not necessarily disagree with the author, but it seems like these five factors should, to a greater or lesser degree, be integral to the decision-making of most photographers who have been shooting for any length of time and have spent some of it studying the craft. I am sure others can come up with five other factors that might be equally as applicable, and what that says to me is that we need to be as mindful as we can when making photographs.

--Ken
 
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she's definitely a creative
Thanks for your response, which is a very valid point, and yes she is very creative. I asked that question without posting any of her images to illustrate a point. Her images are technically as close to perfect as is possible.
So, does being creative and technically correct define an individual's ability to be the maker of great images?
 
Thanks for your response, which is a very valid point, and yes she is very creative. I asked that question without posting any of her images to illustrate a point. Her images are technically as close to perfect as is possible.
So, does being creative and technically correct define an individual's ability to be the maker of great images?
IMHO, it only reflects that she is great at manipulating images in Photoshop...... The images may or may not be appealing to all viewers, even considered "great" by some, but in any case, the reality is that if they are composites they are not actually the images as originally shot. Sounds to me as though she is a better retoucher/image manipulator than she is an actual photographer, per se...... I think I would call her a "digital artist" rather than "photographer," with photographs being the starting point for her digital art creations.
 
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Obviously she thinks she can make better composites. As any good cook knows, good ingredients make for better products! She's taking processing to the limit, probably to make up for something that is lacking in the individual images/components. It's not unlike what other processing skills bring to the image--HDR, flash, long exposure, photo stacking, etc. So, yes, she is a maker of great images.
 
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This is a great picture - could look at it for ages - the way it is lit that shows off the colours and the curves.

To illustrate a point - this picture ticks all technical criteria - composition, lighting and so on. And yet most people just see a motorcycle, for which they are completely uninterested.

It seems that more people (probably) would rather think that some gnarly bit of wood, or a picture of flaking paint, or maybe of a model in some pose taken in some bleak disused warehouse, would better qualify as a Great Photo - not in this house it doesn't !

So perhaps you should show us Your idea of a Great Photo - here's my entry !

View attachment 1616351
You obviously attach a lot of/all the importance to the subject (story) and the other factors are used, if at all, just to allow the subject to dominate.
Is it a great photo? You think so, so it is. I will not display at my home, I'm not into motorcycles.
 
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You obviously attach a lot of/all the importance to the subject (story) and the other factors are used, if at all, just to allow the subject to dominate.
Is it a great photo? You think so, so it is. I will not display at my home, I'm not into motorcycles.
I have a picture calendar on the wall in the kitchen and all the pictures - a different one every month - are of motorcycles. The motorcycles, all beautifully photographed (some indoors mostly outside) are the main focus of the pictures.

Someone has commissioned this calendar, paid out to have these great pictures collated and sold by a major publisher.

Next month's picture is a stunning picture of an SS100 Brough Superior - one such motorcycle sold at auction recently for equivalent of about US $418,000.

I am not alone in having an interest in motorcycles, and liking to see great pictures of them.
 
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OWM, you are not alone in your passion, and your passion shows in just about all of your postings here. Passion is necessary for making and viewing photographs. And photography can lead to passion.
 
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She's taking processing to the limit, probably to make up for something that is lacking in the individual images/components.
That's a possibility, but we don't have enough information to know the probability. She might be working in a realm of art that requires making composites. We wouldn't assume a particular painter always uses oil because s/he is better at that than using watercolor without seeing both. So, we also shouldn't assume a person making composites is better at it than making images using just one capture. Indeed, one possibility might be that this photographer makes composites because she has less competition in that realm of photography. As an example, Georgia O'Keeffe wrote that she made large paintings of flowers because nobody else did it; she had less competition when making them.
 
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the reality is that if they are composites they are not actually the images as originally shot.
Why does that matter? Ansel Adams never made an image as originally shot.

Sounds to me as though she is a better retoucher/image manipulator than she is an actual photographer, per se.
As I wrote in response to Nick's comment, we don't have enough information to know why she makes composites.

I think I would call her a "digital artist" rather than "photographer," with photographs being the starting point for her digital art creations.
What would you call photographers who mounted multiple slides in one mount to create the final image? What would you call photographers who use a film or glass negative that has been altered to create the final image in a style that is different than if the film or glass had not been altered? I ask because I call them photographers making photographs.
 
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Right you are.
She's creating an image that existed only in her mind. Yeah, without knowing more and seeing some of her work, we can't say much more. I was trying to stay within the context of the original article that Karen posted. Motives, not mentioned, are powerful.
 
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And at the end of the day, as author Jacob Surland summarizes, one person's meh is another's ohhh momma!

"In photography, there are no absolutes. Not two people have the same opinion. We do not all like the same, things so what some people would deem a perfect photo, others may not deem perfect. Yet, there are some tendencies and you could do worse, than paying attention to what people like and don’t like if you want to create successful photos."

We are blessed here at the Cafe to have an abundance of talents and passions that enable us to see the world from our favorite chair.
 
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I am learning so much from all of you, and I do appreciate that. The woman that I have described is obviously successful in her field of photography and her teaching career. Her style of photography does not appeal to me in the least, and it doesn't have to. I had never considered this from a pragmatic stand point until Mike pointed it out for me; "Indeed, one possibility might be that this photographer makes composites because she has less competition in that realm of photography. As an example, Georgia O'Keeffe wrote that she made large paintings of flowers because nobody else did it; she had less competition when making them." Thank you Mike..
 
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