Qualities of a Good Photograph

Thursday, March 16th 2023

There are several qualities or attributes that contribute to making a good photograph, including:

  1. Composition - how the elements of the photograph are arranged within the frame.

  2. Lighting - the use of light and shadow to create mood, depth, and dimensionality.

  3. Focus - the sharpness or clarity of the image, and where the viewer's eye is drawn.

  4. Color - the use of color, or lack thereof, to create mood and atmosphere.

  5. Contrast - the range of tones from light to dark, and how they work together to create depth and dimensionality.

  6. Subject matter - the content of the photograph, whether it is a person, place, or thing, and how it is represented.

  7. Emotion - the ability of the photograph to evoke an emotional response in the viewer.

  8. Storytelling - the way the photograph tells a story or conveys a message.

Ultimately, a good photograph is one that captures the viewer's attention and holds it, either through its technical excellence, its emotional impact, or its ability to tell a compelling story. It is an image that stays with the viewer long after they have looked away, and that invites them to see the world in a new way.


A photograph can tell a story in many ways, including through composition, lighting, subject matter, and emotion. Here are some ways that photographs can tell a story:

  1. Composition - The arrangement of the elements within the frame can suggest a narrative or guide the viewer's eye through the image. For example, a photograph that uses leading lines to draw the viewer's gaze towards a particular subject can suggest movement or direction.

  2. Lighting - The use of light and shadow can create mood and atmosphere, and can suggest a time of day or a particular setting. For example, a photograph of a street at night with bright lights and long shadows can suggest a sense of mystery or danger.

  3. Subject Matter - The subject of the photograph can convey a story or a message. For example, a photograph of a person in a particular setting can suggest something about their character or their story.

  4. Emotion - A photograph can evoke an emotional response in the viewer, whether it is joy, sadness, fear, or any other emotion. This emotional impact can be used to tell a story or convey a message.

Does the camera lie?

As for whether the camera lies, it is important to remember that photographs are not objective representations of reality. The camera can be manipulated in many ways to create a particular effect or convey a particular message. For example, the choice of lens, aperture, and shutter speed can all affect how a scene is captured, and post-processing techniques can further alter the image. Additionally, the act of framing a photograph involves making choices about what to include and what to leave out, which can shape the viewer's understanding of the scene. Therefore, it is important to approach photographs with a critical eye and an awareness of the ways in which they can be manipulated to tell a particular story or convey a particular message.