Photographs have always been the best way to capture memories, to freeze a perfect moment in time to allow you to recount the story many years down the line. But why are some photographs more special than others? Why are some of them etched in your memory, while others are easily forgotten? Essentially, what makes a photograph great? Today, we explore the 4 usually overlooked ways to turn a regular photograph into one that is truly special.
A great photo invokes thought. What is that boy doing? Where are those people going? Why are they dressed like that? We are all too accustomed to capturing as much as we can with every shot. Just look at the travel or family photos you have taken in the past year. Most of them would probably be front-facing, at about chest height, taken from a similar distance away.
Your photo doesn’t have to tell the whole story. Focus on your subject – the main character in the photo – and invite a sense of wonder and intrigue by angling or framing the shot so that parts of the picture are left to the imagination. But, if you cannot get the perfect shot with your camera, this can also be done during post-processing on the computer. Today’s photo editing software makes it incredibly easy to crop, blur, or re-position certain parts of your picture. Let your creativity run wild and create photos that provoke discussion and debate.
99% off all photographs of the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal look exactly the same – taken from the same point and focused on the same spot. Don’t take our word for it. Head to Google, or Bing, and search for images of these two iconic buildings. Even at events like weddings, concerts, or a family day at the park, photographs taken by different people usually end up being remarkably similar and it soon becomes a chore to flip through them.
Our tip? Forget the conventional photos (well, quickly take one obligatory shot if you must) and head out to hunt for the different. Try different perspectives – look up, down, try crouching on the ground, or using objects and people around you to lend some context. Search for places or vantage points where people don’t usually think of taking a photo.
This challenge won’t always be easy and you might find that, more often than not, there will be obstacles in your shot. It might come from your fingers appearing the frame because of the way you need to hold your camera, or an overflowing garbage bin that you just cannot frame out. However, keep your eye on the big picture, you can always clean it up later on the computer with photo editing software.
Fix the imperfections
It’s always best to capture the perfect shot using the camera with raw skill and a bit of luck, but sometimes that is just not possible. You could be hindered by objects that you cannot avoid, or imperfections that you might have overlooked while taking the shot. Upload your photo onto a big computer screen, take a step back and look at your photograph as a whole. Is there an intrusive power line streaking across the frame? Or a dump truck right smack in the middle of the shot that you didn’t notice before.
Fixing imperfections does not mean dramatically manipulating your shot. Do not feel compelled to make dramatic changes to force the perfect picture. Imperfections are mostly about the small details, the little things that get in the way of the big picture.
Focus on the details
Everyone has had a bad hair day, or that mysterious pimple that appears out of nowhere and stubbornly refuses to yield no matter what you throw at it. It could also be a pesky bird that refuses to budge from the window you are trying to take a photo out of. But all these shouldn’t get in the way of a great photo.
There are lots of tools to help you smooth out these unsightly details, and many of them are designed with a good level of intelligence and awareness to make sure that the end result looks as natural as possible. So, take your time with some good photo editing software and clean out all the untidy little spots, smears, marks, or features that mar your photo.
However, we do have one warning: not every imperfection needs to go. Imperfections in your photo could make it more unique and, on occasion, a little flaw might actually play into the story you are trying to tell.
So, what do we think separates a good photo from a great one? Attention to detail, a creative eye, and clever use of all the amazing tools available to you – like these. But above all, it takes practice – lots of it. So head out into the world today to create awe-inspiring photographs with a difference!