Key Elements of a Great Photograph: The Photographer’s Diet

Improving your photography doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it can be as simple as going on a diet–a photographer’s diet. Below, street photographer Craig Semetko explains each of the essential ingredients of the photographer’s diet, guaranteed to improve your photography (if not your waist line):

Each photograph we take–whether carefully composed or just a quick snap–has elements within it that determine whether it provides a strong visual impact on the viewer:

  • Design
  • Information
  • Emotion
  • Timing

If we can dial in even two of these elements in a single photograph, we’re likely to have an image that works. Add in one to two more, and we’re likely to get a memorable image–one that’s likely to be a portfolio shot.

Using Great Design In Your Diet

Known for his focus on the authentic human experience, Semetko favors the element of emotion over design, information, or even timing. So while getting all four elements in one shot is superbly challenging, if you have to pick and choose, he would say go for the emotional impact first and then worry about the rest.

Capturing Emotion

“The decisive moment – shoot for it.”

At the same time, maybe you can’t achieve the greatest emotional impact without impeccable (or lucky) timing. What do you think? If you had to choose just one piece of the photographer’s diet, which would you choose?

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One response to “Key Elements of a Great Photograph: The Photographer’s Diet”

  1. Wendy says:

    Being as I learned photography from a photojournalist perspective, most of my photos are shot for information–I’ve got probably hundreds of photos that are “bad” as photos but sit on my hard drive because they have useful information in them. I’m probably weakest on emotion, because I’m too much of an introvert to seek people as subjects, and the landscapes I have available to shoot are seldom strong in the “mood” department. Timing is, paradoxially, both a reason I take photos and something that doesn’t factor that precisely into what I shoot.

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