Can anyone really answer the question “what makes a good photograph?”.
Who decides what is good and what isn’t?
There are people out there that will offer advise on the subject. You can offer an image for critique and you will get a wide range of varying opinions on your image but amongst those there will be friends who are nice because they don’t want to offend you and there will be those who tell you how bad the image is because that’s what they always do, tell everyone how bad there images are. In between you will get some honest opinions, but those opinions may well vary greatly and you’re left having to decide where the truth lies because at the end of the day it’s about personal opinions and personal opinions differ. I think it’s good that we all see things differently as variety has to be a good thing but possibly not a great way to measure how good your work is.
There are mentors, something I have to say I know little about but what I understand is that they will look at your work and offer guidance on how to improve it with a view to being more successful in competitions. These people are highly respected photographers and their advice will be based on their considerable knowledge and experience and I’m sure their feedback will be useful in bringing about improvements to image suitability for entering competitions, but does it encourage creativity or conformity? If we all use the same basic template when we create images are we restricting individuality?
A third option, or an extension of the above, is to actually enter competitions and see how you get on but will a few poor outcomes result in a loss of enthusiasm for photography, I suppose that again depends on the individual, but with my limited experience of competitions I have not always found judges comments to be constructive and encouraging to the extent that I prefer not to attend competition judging although I’m sure there are others who find them very informative and enjoyable. Once again, it’s down to personal choice and my only concern is that we encourage rather than discourage.
Something I always come back to and something I think we should all bear in mind when we see a photograph is that it is very unlikely that the person showing the photograph is showing it because they think it’s a load of rubbish, it’s more likely that they like it and I think we all need to remember that. Just because we may not like it, it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t any good.
So what makes a good photograph? A good question and does anyone really have the answer? I certainly don’t. I know what I like but that’s just my taste and will not be everyone’s but here are just a few of favourites from my recent shoots.