What Makes a Good Photo?

What makes a good photo? That’s always a question for me. The brain is always attracted to things that it likes. I love the color red and red is great for photography. It is often the thing that will cause me to choose to process a photo in color. But not always. There are many such things that we are attracted to. Things which make you stop and shoot. But does that make for a good photo?

I didn’t shoot Halloween last year. In part because I am possibly losing interest in photographing planned events. It’s too easy to photograph a really cool costume. I repeat, what makes a good photo? The costume isn’t enough. A pretty woman, a pet, an odd person, etc etc, they all grab the mind’s attention.

Chinatown Street Photography
Red Tie, New York City, 17 February 2019

But a really good photo has a number of elements that make it really good. It’s never just one thing. I think that a boring subject captured well is more interesting than a beautiful subject shot poorly. Sunsets often fall into that category. The actual sunset is often more pleasing to the eye than the photo.

How do we get to that place where we can truly judge the merits of a photo? That’s a really good question and one that I don’t think that I can honestly answer. I can say that it isn’t truly just a technical thing either. Technically precise photos lack emotion.

Many other photos are merely emotional eye candy. Somewhere in the middle is a place where technique and emotion combine to make a lasting image. If and when I finally figure out the secret formula, I’ll share it with you.

That said, art is always subjective. There is no objective method in which to judge art. So perhaps my question will not ever be truly answered!

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