A good Photograph Has a clear Subject.
This is Part 1 of a series of articles about The Three Guidelines for Great Photographs.
Each year, we take billions of pictures to record family memories, children’s parties, and vacations. Even with today’s
amazing digital cameras, there’s a problem: The pictures taken by most untrained photographers are no better than before.
The same mistakes show up predictably, ruining what should have been memorable pictures.
Why? Simply because—no matter how advanced the camera—most people don’t know a few simple, creative guidelines
that can make snapshots into eye-catching photographs.
Guideline number One: Know your subject
Before you take any picture, you have to answer one question:
“What do I want to be the subject of this picture?”
Only after you have answered this question are you ready to take the picture. Now, this seems pretty obvious. You wouldn’t be taking this picture if you didn’t know what you wanted it to be about, would you? Yet, it’s the single most important failing in most pictures taken by amateurs.
You know what you want to be your subject. But the picture you capture often doesn’t express what you saw in the viewfinder. Let’s say you took a picture of Little Sally in your backyard. Sure, when you get back the print you see Little Sally right there, but you also see the trashcan, the fire hydrant, the broken deck chair, and the telephone pole that seems to be growing out of her head.
So Guideline One is Know Your Subject. If your subject is Little Sally, then don’t have her compete for attention with a dozen other objects. In fact, don’t have her compete with even one other object. Your picture should be about her and only her. She should be the unmistakable subject to anyone looking at the print.
In the picture on the top of this page, I show a close-up picture of a young child. Is there any question that he’s the subject of this picture? No. Nothing distracts from him. There’s no other place for the viewer’s eye to go. This picture is about this child and only this child. This is the single key to better pictures—the subject is clear, obvious, and unambiguous.
But there’s more to a great picture—which brings us to Guideline Two.
(Will be discussed on my next blog).