What makes A Great Photograph
How many times do you return from being out, exhausted but happy, and sit down and grab a nice cold beer. [Disclaimer – this is written from a Bloke’s point of view. Please replace ‘grab a beer’ with ‘choose the finest porcelain cup from your buffet and hutch, and make yourself a nice relaxing cup of chamomile tea, and with relaxed breaths, inhale the gorgeous aromas, before sipping slowly]. You look at the pictures on your camera LED or your phone screen, and think ‘Oh Wow, what A Great Photograph. That’s a real keeper, I took that great shot – the best shot I have taken today’.
You quickly thrust your sweaty palm [again, disclaimers may apply depending on gender] containing your preferred photographic device under the nearest person’s nose you can find, and impart your enthusiasm. In return the person says ‘mm that’s nice’ or maybe if you are lucky, a quickly uttered platitude. Then, the next day, or maybe a couple of days later you return to view your images, and a different picture catches your eye, maybe one that is less immediate.
Those two views don’t necessarily mean that either of the images are a bad, good or even less likely, a great shot….. So this made me consider – What makes a great Australian photography final image – one you will be proud to call A Photograph? To rival A Photograph by Ken Duncan? * (See below)
Try it as Wallpaper
You could try setting your ‘maybe’ image as your computer wallpaper, and see how long you like looking at it. You could make a rough print off your computer and pin or stick the print on your desk. [Disclaimer again – or buffet and hutch]. How long does it catch your eye for? In both cases, is it still a good image after a few minutes, a day, week, or a month, or has it faded into the background?
Go on – make a print of it
Try again. Find an image you like, print it and frame it on the wall. Wow! We are getting somewhere, on our quest to a good image. Do you enjoy looking at it for weeks or months? If it’s months you are maybe onto something, if it’s years then it probably is a great image. Then….. That’s you, but what do other people think? Do they mention it when they enter your house? Do you hear ‘Mate, that’s great’ or maybe ‘Divine! darling, just divine?’
Into practice – some examples
So, I put this into practice. I printed three of my best landscape photography images to 7.5 inches by 5 on lovely metallic paper. My framer mounted and carded them. So that was like a framed photograph without the actual frame (and without the expense). I took them into work to display at my desk.
- The first print lasted around a week or so with me ‘liking’ it. The problem wasn’t the image, it was actually the post-processing, it was too dark around the edges. As it was a misty bush scene it also didn’t suit the metallic paper. It would look better with rag, lustre, or matte paper. Both now fixed!!!
- The second print went up and stayed up – it lasted. It’s GREAT! I also got confirmation of that because people love it on Facebook. I only took it down to put the third up.
- The third print is a good image, but again I have not processed it well. Once again I have fixed it. It looks great on a monitor, but not on the wall. We look at images for so much longer on a wall than we do as a flitting glance on a phone.
I suspect I am talking about one in a thousand images that I have taken is good, and one in ten thousand is great. I have a landscape photography image on my bedroom wall, taken fifteen years ago, which I still look at and love. It was of a major outback trip, and a place I will likely never return to. I have a really strong emotional connection as well to the place which will make the image more appealing..
* Interest point. Ken Duncan does (or at least did) not actually choose his own panoramic photography images for release as ‘Ken Duncan’ prints. A panel of his people determine his ‘best’ images..
Over to you, it’s Time to Print. Or at the very least change your Wallpaper. Time to make A Great Photograph.
The Berowra Photographer