We have once said that a good way to learn photography is by reading books. But not books dedicated to the photographic technique, but investing part of our time in deepening the photographic art itself.
This kind of reading is very enriching because it helps you understand photography and take it to another level. At a more “artistic” level, far from the typical exercises where we must place the subject in one of the strong points of the rule of thirds.
Characteristics of Good Photography
1. Intelligent Composition
This is perhaps the most technical part of what a “good photograph” would be. Normally we tend to consider a good image to be one that is correctly focused, well exposed, composed according to the rules. A clean photograph. But we have often said that a “perfect” photograph does not have to be good.
So the important thing for making a good photograph is to know what we are doing. And, above all, to be aware that yes, a blurry photograph can be good. Yes, a grainy photograph can be good. Yes, a photograph with an unbalanced composition can be good. As long as there is an intention in it. As long as the artist knows why he’s doing it. And, in order to break the rules in this way, one must first know them.
2. It provokes a reaction
In other words, it draws attention. On more than one occasion I have come across images (my own and those of others) that have kept me hooked on the paper or the screen for long periods of time while looking at them. There are images that have “something” that attracts your eyes.
Good images are attractive in a natural way and for many reasons: for their composition, for their protagonists, for the story they tell, for the eye of the artist who took them. Many of these things cannot be provoked, so focus on expressing things with your images. That’s the best way to get good pictures.
3. It offers more than one layer of experience
Contemplating a “good photograph” is always a complete experience. A good image is not just observed, a high quality photograph must be read, it must have different expressive planes. A good photograph is expressive in its entirety.
How do you generate different layers of experience with a photograph? The easiest way is to use composition and depth of field to tell different things. Don’t focus on the foreground, contextualize our stories, hide details throughout the composition of our images.
In short: don’t make our images too obvious. When we see a photograph, the first glance already gives us a lot of information. A good photograph does not stop at that first glance: it hides little pills of information all along the picture whose function is, besides completing all the sense of the work, to challenge the eye of the one who sees the image to look for them.
4. It has its context in the photograph
Good photographs have a cultural context: they define a “now” and a “here”. They serve to tell stories, or to show events, characters, objects. This context is also conditioned by the references that both the artist and the public of the image may have. And all this is involved in order to give meaning to a good photograph.
5. It contains an idea
This does not mean that good photographs need to convey a profound message that invites everyone who sees them to reflect on some important subject in life.
An idea can take many forms: it can be a concept, yes, but it can also be a concrete way of looking at reality. Or a concrete way of showing it through photographic composition or by choosing the determined exhibition values to do it in the way that the artist is most interested in. The important thing is that photography transmits something.
6. They do not imitate
And by not imitating, you don’t want to convey the concept of originality. It refer to the fact of “not copying” other artists. Photography as an art has limitations, it is true, but it also has very specific characteristics that make it unique (just as other types of art have their own).
A good photograph “explores and exploits its own medium, and this means having a clear idea of what photography excels at.
These are all characteristics of photography as an artistic medium. A good photographer is aware of all this and a good photograph makes it evident to everyone who sees it. So: a good photograph is, first of all, a photograph. It should not try to imitate other artistic media. Although it may seem silly, it is so.
What is a good photograph? It is a conscious, meaningful image.
Is it easy to get a good photograph? If we simply follow the six points that define what a good photograph is, it may seem easy to achieve. But the secret of these six points is to do it with grace and strength.
When you shoot you end up merging with the camera, this ends up being one more extension of your body and when you achieve this and you also have clear what you want to achieve when you press the shutter, the magic happens and good photographs appear.