Caffeine Priority: The recipe for a good photograph and the importance of the subject in an image


posted Saturday, September 3, 2016 at 4:59 AM EST


Wake up with IR! Here's today's cup of Caffeine Priority...

Food photographer and writer Lauchlan Toal recently wrote an article for Photography Life about "why good photographers take bad photos."

We need to get something out of the way first. For the purpose of this discussion, Toal suggests defining photography as the art and craft of image making. "Good photography requires a knowledge of both technical and artistic techniques," he says. "A good photograph, on the other hand, is not dependent on technique." Obviously with all else being equal, a sharper, well-exposed image is better than an otherwise identical image that is blurry and blown out. But Lauchlan's point is that a good photo need not necessarily be technically perfect.

Do good photographers take bad photos? Well, yes and no. Good photographers can take photographs that are technically bad, but still a good photograph overall. Toal talks about the importance of the subject in an image and says, "A terrible photo of an amazing subject will always be more interesting than an amazing photo of a terrible subject." It's hard to argue with that. A "bad" photo of a lion chasing a gazelle at sunset will always be more interesting than a technically perfect image of a stack of newspapers, for example.

Toal has a more recent example, consider the recent photo from Rio of Usain Bolt smiling while looking back at the elite athletes he's dominating. This is a great photo, but as Toal notes, "It's not 100% sharp."

Another aspect of making good photos is related to the passion the photographer has for the subject they're photographing. There's nothing controversial about that: It's definitely easier to make good photos of a subject you're interested in. It gets a bit more polarizing after that though, as he writes "I might even take it a step further, and suggest that good amateur photographers often take worse photos than worse amateur photographers." If you're interested in this claim, read the full article.

Ultimately good photographers, according to Toal, are the ones who routinely photograph interesting subjects. That isn't to say that simply photographing something visually intriguing makes you a good photographer, but instead that good photographers are the ones who seek out interesting subjects or make the mundane beautiful. If those photos are technically sound, all the better, but that's not a prerequisite for a good photograph.

(Seen via Photography Life)

Caffeine Priority is a series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!