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How to recognize good photos

Created date

April 23rd, 2015
outdoor photo
outdoor photo

There’s a difference between a snapshot and a stunning photograph of the same scene. Would you like your photos to be more eye-appealing? Turns out the well-worn clichés are true: Practice makes perfect. You learn from your mistakes. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. 

These clichés are certainly true in photography. But to take outstanding photographs, you must first recognize good photography. I refer here to the esthetics of photography more than technical quality. 

Taking ordinary photos is easy. Even the pros do it, but they don’t show them to the public. Recognizing quality comes from years of experience, many failures, and, of course, the honesty to examine their own work with a critical eye.

Like the pro, you can train your eye to discern what makes extraordinary photography—use of color, composition, focal point of interest, story. You can then be honest about making the hard judgment call with your own work.  

Seven steps

This is what I suggest:

1.Look at pictures in magazines, even advertisements.

2.Study paintings (if you’re really serious, study art history).

3.Examine other photographers’ works. 

4.Join a photo club.

5.Take lots of photos.

6.Critique your photos as though they were taken by someone else.

7.Finally, have a photographer you respect critique your photos.

It’s a path worth following. Did you notice I did not recommend reading photography books? There’s nothing wrong with doing that. You would learn a lot. Books will school you in the basic techniques and teach you a lot about the craft of photography. 

But to recognize what makes outstanding photographs, try my seven steps and you’ll be taking award-winning photographs just like the pros.