Elements of a Great Photo

June 29, 2016  •  3 Comments

Poetry in Motion SeriesPoetry in Motion SeriesModel VikTory There are three kinds of photos. Good photos, very good photos and great photos. I appreciate them all. I am occasionally asked what it takes to create a "great" fashion art or fine art photo. So, I am going to share what I believe it takes to make a GREAT photo. You will probably notice the simplicity of this answer...it's actually pretty straight forward. Since I shoot models...this article is about shooting models. Right? 

First, you must have a great, beautiful, professional model. A professional model knows and understands how to position her body relative to the camera POV. She envisions how the lens is "seeing" her pose. She knows where the light is coming from and adjusts her pose accordingly. A professional model poses without hesitation or reluctance. She just brings it...taking chances. Actually an entire blog/article can be written on this topic, but these are a few important points. 

Poetry in Motion SeriesPoetry in Motion SeriesModel VikTory Secondly, you must have an experienced professional hair and makeup artist. Don't fool yourself, for your photos to stand out, this is a critical component of process. Seek out great hair and makeup artists and pay them. Let your HMUA's get creative. Trust their artistic skills. Try not to direct your MUA too much...let the art flow from the professionals. 

Third. The intangibles. You MUST have at least one of these: A great location, prop, wardrobe or concept. You can't just say..."go stand there" and expect and expect something great. Sometimes all it takes is a simple prop. Maybe you have found an amazing vintage dress to build your mood board around. Location, location, location...this is the hard part, for me anyway, but it can make the photo. Imagine a concept that will invoke some sort of emotion or something that tells a story. 

Forth element is the light...and shadows. Volumes can and have been written on this topic, but it only stands to reason that you need wonderful light on our subject

Last, a great edit. You have your great model, a creative MUA, the intangible and directed an amazing photo shoot. But, the edit is the final piece of the puzzle that MUST be skillfully crafted, interesting and has an some aspect that makes the photo pop. Practice and study every day to improve that part of your trade. 

If you don't have all five of these elements in your photo, you will probably have a very good image. Not every photo we create will be a "Great" photo, but it should always be our goal. 

View more images from my shoot with the amazing model VikTory here



Annette Sturgeon(non-registered)
Your comments and this article are always helpful
Thanks a lot for the great collaboration, and the wonderful words!
Calvin Smith(non-registered)
It's enlightened description like this that helps my development as a photographer & artist. Thank you for sharing your insight
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