What’s a Good Photo?

You need to be your own toughest critic to really improve.

Joel Sartore

Still photos make the perfect memory of a special occasion, family trip, friendly gathering, or other event. Through a carefully crafted photo album, we can remember vivid details of an event from the past and recall who did what with who. We can remember people long after their passing and even recall forgotten events from our own youths. The whole point of photography is to freeze time to admire it later, but who will admire grainy photos that are out of focus more than once?

A good photo should not only be sharp, well-focused, and have a good field of depth, but be interesting. Great photos have great light, good composition, and are of something interesting. A talented photographer can make quality pictures out of anything, even the daily grind, but there are four key things to consider when taking photos:

  • Subject
  • Light
  • Space
  • Background


The subject of the photo should be evident and stand out amongst the other elements of the photo, whether it’s a human, a plant, an inanimate object, or an animal. The purpose of your photo is to display the subject creatively, so make sure the subject is clear and the dominant feature of the photo.


Good lighting is one of the four cornerstones of an impressive picture. After all, who wants to look at a picture when the lighting is too dark, or the colors are washed out. Use ambient lighting to your advantage, or create circumstances to get the shot with introduced lighting.


Use the space of the photo to your advantage. Get closer to fill blank areas around subjects, or further away to add more area around your subjects. Use zoom lenses to find theriht range, or physically move further/closer. Effectively fill your photo with good framing that adds to your subject.


Your background is as equally important as your subject. Don’t clutter too much or it will detract from your subject(s). Too little of a background and the photo will seem cheap and meaningless to the viewer. If possible take out distractive elements, or consider another point of view for the photo. You can also use a shallower depth of field to blur the deep background of your photos.

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