4 Things All Great Photos Have in Common

Episode Transcript:

There’s no formula for a perfect a photo, but every great photo starts from the same recipe. I’m Josh Cripps and today I’m going to show you exactly what that recipe is.

[opening credits]

Hey everyone and welcome to professional photography tips. If you’ve ever looked at your photography and said “meh, why don’t my photos look as good as the pros’?” then this video is for you. Regardless of the genre, whether it’s street photography, studio pet portraits, or landscapes, every great photo shares four common characteristics. So if your photos aren’t great it means you’re missing one or more of these four things.

1) An Interesting Subject

First things first, you have to shoot something that you find fascinating, intriguing, beautiful, or otherwise interesting. You can be a whiz with all your camera settings and Photoshop but if you’re not actually taking pictures of something you think is really cool, then no one else is going to find it cool either. So figure out what you love and shoot that!

2) A Good Composition

Next, you’ve got to show your subject off in a compelling way. Figure out the essence of what you’re shooting, exactly what you think is cool about it, whether it’s a specific feature of your subject, or the relationship between your subject and its environment, and compose to emphasize those characteristics.

3) Good Technique (F-Stop, Shutter Speed, ISO)

Just like composition, technique is an extension of the idea of your photo. Want to emphasize the dreamy feeling of a flowing waterfall? Then use a long shutter speed. Trying to draw attention to a model’s eyes and lips? Then use a large aperture to minimize your depth of field and reduce distractions throughout the rest of the frame. Again, think about the most important ideas of your photo, what is it really about? And analyze how you can make technical choices to support that idea.

4) Good Light

Finally, good light is crucial to a good photograph. Shoot at sunrise or sunset for warm magic hour tones, learn how to rock an off camera flash and get your strobe on, or invest in diffusers and reflectors. These are all things that can improve the lighting in your photos, though in the end only you can decide what good light is for you. And if you’re unsure, look at photos that you love and study the lighting, and before you know it the lighting in your own images will start kicking butt.

So that’s it, that’s the recipe. Those four simple, but oh so powerful things. So the next time you look at a great photo see if you can figure out how the photographer used each of these four elements. Or if you look at a not-so-great photo try identify which of the four is missing. And if you do this with your own photography you’ll see it improve by leaps and bounds.

As always, thanks for watching. Be sure to check out part 2 of this video where I analyze some examples from my own photography to show you what’s missing and how I improved the shots. Or watch some of my other videos. And if you liked this you can subscribe for more photography tips and techniques. Also visit my website joshuacripps dot com for landscape photography, tutorials, workshops and more. Until next time, have fun and happy shooting!

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