Image Elements

Often we will see a photograph that will catch our eye or give us pause as we view it.

Each day many thousands of images are captured by digital cameras and even film. 99.99% or more of those images will never be seen by anyone other than the person who tripped the shutter. I know, I have a great many of those images spanning almost 40 years in both film and digital format.

For the majority of people the images are pieces of memories of vacations and family events and exist only to help in recalling times and places that are special to them and them alone.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Some of us have a desire to share with others the places, the people, and the visions of the world we have been fortunate to experience. To do so effectively, those few must elevate their photographic skills so that the resulting image evokes an emotional response from the viewer.

If you seek to be known as a photographer, you must develop that skill so that there would be no mistaking your work from the millions of snapshots taken each day.

An online photographic school has three basic rules for aspiring photographers to go by.

  1. A Good Photograph Has a Clear Subject
  2. A Good Photograph Focuses Attention on the Subect
  3. A Good Photograph Simplifies

When you think about it, those basic rules make sense. Take a look at some of your recent image captures. I bet that the ones you like best have two or more of the rules working for them.

Bryan Peterson founder of The Picture Perfect school of photography , the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Magazine, as well as many other professionals will add a fourth rule. That a great photograph tells a story. The “great” photo will have all the elements of the three basic rules but also tells a story that the intended audience will relate to as well.

A recent debate on the Nikonians website asked what made great images “great”. A majority of respondents all listed the usual suspects. Focus, light, composition, subject, etc. One of the more thought provoking ideas was that the viewer had to be able to place himself within the context of the image. They had to be able to imagine they were actually there. That is probably why you see so many landscape images that are hailed as “great” contain some element that permits the viewer to place himself within the image.

Going hand in hand with those rules are camera technique. Focus, exposure, camera support, light, etc. While a simple point and shoot camera may give you images of acceptable quality, most cameras of that type will not give the photographer enough control over shutter speed and DOF (depth of field) to capture a great image.

No matter what equipment you use, you have a burden of responsibility to learn the features of your equipment. And a burden to learn about the use of shutter speed and aperture to capture the story you want to tell.

Only then can we start on the path to becoming a photographer.

Walk with me as I take this journey.