Photo by Troy Holden

Ok I downloaded a poll plugin. I’m a nerd’s nerd and I like DATA. After the discussion in the last article, the comments became about the magic ingredients for a masterpiece level photo. That’s what I was getting out of it anyways. If we at least know the ingredients, maybe we can figure out how to bake these cookies.

After thinking about it all night, I do not think there is a magic formula for a photo that can ring truth spanning across all generations and cultures. But, if you are looking at this website and you know what we are doing over here, then you know that we are all in the same general type of genre/category/aesthetic or whatever you want to call it. So maybe we can have a formula for our little section of the photo universe.

Also, I think there might exist 2 ways to look at a photograph. One as a photographer. And one as civilian. For instance I think I look at photo books as a photographer, but I view the newspapers and commercial magazines as a civilian. This might not be true in every case, but generally I think I operate this way. So I made this poll to contain aspects of both types of viewing.

Vote here for what you think is the most number 1 important aspect of a great photo. What connects you most? What engages you as a viewer? We know it is a combo of all of them, but if you had to choose just one. What would it be?

If you choose “None”, then leave in the comments what you think I might have left off. Thanks in advance.

** Poll not responding on some mobile browsers. Not sure why.

Best Ingredient For A Masterpiece Level Photo

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11 responses to “DATA”

  1. NICK Avatar

    Emotional content. Seeing something and not feeling like an emotionless empty soul for a bit is what it’s all about for me wether it be from photos, film, music ect. I think mystery comes with emotional content with photos but that could just be the way I see it.

  2. Fern Avatar

    Not sure why, but composition stuck out to me. Maybe it’s because it acts as a facilitator of sorts? When I think of photographs that occupy a space in my memory, I feel like the way the shot was composed dictates what kind of emotion I receive from it, or mystery, etc., and that’s why it sticks with me. I mean even if there wasn’t much though put into the composition, that in itself affects how the elements of the photo come across. Not sure really, but I’m enjoying this topic a lot and wanted to share the thoughts behind my choice.

  3. RZZ Avatar

    Thanks for your comments guys. There definitely is no right or wrong answer, but maybe with a general consensus we can find out why generally why people might gravitate towards a certain photo vs another.

    This poll brings up a lot more questions for me actually. Especially context. The situation the photographer is in when shooting,? Is he or she on a particular mission or is it happenstance? Does that even matter? Is this photo going in a frame on a wall? Why? etc etc.

  4. johnny salas Avatar
    johnny salas

    Emotional content hands down. You’d have to be crazy to see a photo that hits you and then think, “Composition and lighting were off. I’m not into anymore.”

  5. RZZ Avatar

    True Johnny. I think this is connection for sure. This is part of the dictionary definition of “art”.

    But Reuben brought up the point that overt emotional content can almost be unrelatable. And I take that as pertaining to being a photographer who just shoots the happenings in my little neighborhood. I think of the intensity of war photography. Not that I can’t relate to or can’t have empathy for these people going through horrific conditions, but how can I as a photographer shoot anything that has any impact in comparison? Should we all just be photojournalists?

    I think maybe the answer to that is there is a whole spectrum of emotions. And not one is more “important” than the other. And maybe the viewer will be feeling something at a certain time of their life that makes them connect with a certain photo. I don’t know?

    Why are the Kardashians the most followed and most liked on Instagram? And there’s like 10 of them? Why is Big Bang Theory bigger than Game of Thrones?

  6. Danny Arenas Avatar

    I see all these ingredients as connected. If your timing if off the composition is off the subject matter is off the mystery is inexplicably missed. The emotional content can be strong but something stills feels off -Too obvious perhaps . Too forced. Perhaps cliche. . All the listed ingredients are important, it some pictures some ingredients are more prominent than others but hints of all ingredients are present. It’s a mystery.

  7. Reuben Radding Avatar

    I don’t think this completely nails it, but the concept of “duende” which I first encountered in my life as a musician, is somewhere in the ballpark for me. Probably because it’s fairly subjective.

  8. RZZ Avatar

    Yeah I think it is impossible. I mean people have phds in art theory. “Duende” is awesome and it is right there in the mix of what we are talking about.

  9. Benjamin Littler Avatar

    I don’t know if it’s crazy to see something that emotionally effects you and due to composition have a loss or reduction in feeling. I know that personally after first seeing my own photos after processing there have been moments I’ve felt completely deflated when the subject matter, lighting, timing, everything is spot on and I blew the composition. It somehow takes a photograph with such depth and renders it flat. A silly and simple example is something I learned as a child filming my friends skating. I loved filming because I could take someone performing an act and through composition add so much emotion to what was happening. I would always be so disappointed when reviewing a shot of myself that a friend had filmed without that basic understanding of how much your choice of composition effects the end result. Sorry for the long winded response I guess I’m just trying to say that I struggled with this question because I do think the subject matter and emotional content comes first but in the end I kept going back to the undeniable fact (for me personally) that composition when neglected or used poorly can absolutely wreck the content of an otherwise great photograph.

  10. RZZ Avatar

    You’re right too Benjamin. Which is why it seems to be “all of the above” is at the top of the vote.

    That is the perfect example of when handing your camera to someone. You set it up all perfect. Tell them where to stand, basically direct and produce the entire shot and then you see the photo and it looks like shit.

    This sometimes for me is validation as a photographer. Like I know what I’m doing. Well, at least I got the basics down anyways. That separation from photographer vs non-photographer can be razor thin in some areas, but I’ll take it.

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