What Makes A Great Photograph Great?

What makes a great photo great? It’s not all about the lighting, the equipment, the technicalities we as photographers tend to get so wrapped up in. A truly great photograph is so much more than that. It will posses the ability to stop a person in their tracks for a second look. Such as in the images below, great photographs have one thing in common– they are frozen moments in time capable of softening the hearts of even the most stoic individual. Have a look for yourself:

A great photograph has a certain quality about it that evokes emotion and shakes a person right down to their core without giving them a say in the matter.

Photographer’s listed by order of appearance:

  1. Robert Capa
  2. No official citation. Army photographer referred to as Major Benjamin
  3. Heinrich Hoffman
  4. Citation not given
  5. John Dominis
  6. Jeff Widener
  7. Claude P. Dettloff
  8. Stan Stearns
  9. Aaron Thompson.
  10. CFP – Photographer not given
  11. Héctor Rondón Lovera
  12. Yomiuri Shimbun
  13. Mark Pardew
  14. Nevine Zaki
  15. Marc Riboud
  16. No Official citation. Possibly George Mejat
  17. KOREA POOL – Photographer not given
  18. Goran Tomasevic
  19. Cecil Stoughton
  20. Vanderlei Almeida
  21. Getty – Photographer not given
  22. No citation given. Photographs are on English Russia if you’re interested.
  23. AP. Photographer not given
  24. No official citation
  25. Jeff Roberts
  26. Str / AFP – Getty – Photographer not given
  27. Louie Favorite
  28. Getty – Photographer not given
  29. Can’t find this one.
  30. This has gotten so saturated over the internet, the original is near-impossible to find.
  31. William Anders

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9 responses to “What Makes A Great Photograph Great?”

  1. Shane says:

    I don’t agree with this at all. Sadness, war, turmoil or death do not make great photographs. Happiness, joy and beauty make great photographs.

  2. Japinder says:

    The photographs are great in that they capture the moment in such a way as to captivate the viewer so that he or she can deeply connect with that moment frozen in time. Saying the photograph is great doesn’t mean we are glorifying the actions, however regrettable they may be.

  3. FargoiPhones says:

    I think that great is interpreted in many ways.

    I think these moments are great and take the saying, ….A picture says a thousand words… is susicnt and to the point. In life there are amazing moments and when we capture these moments through the eye we capture them in our own minds. When we capture them through the lens we have the ability to share these events with others and let them into our minds even if for just a brief second, or longer.

    Imagery is a powerful medium. It can be joyful it can be sorrowful and it can be anything in between. It can sway decisions and it can alter a mood and I think that these pictures featured in this video are amazing as they depict some of the amazing events in history.

    Without the photographs the moments are changed from frozen, as stated by Japinder, to liquid and over time evaporate from our minds. Thank you to those that endeavored and captured these moments for generations to see, share and appreciate.

  4. Laura G says:

    I watched this over and over again because I was so moved. Yes they are great photos. Thank you to the photographers who first connected to what was going on at the time so that we can connect to these real life moments.

  5. Jemez Cat says:

    Great photographs like all art is in the eye of the beholder. One reason I do not participate in contests is that you have a select few of mostly jaded judges who personally place their own opinions on the merits of what is art. Someday I will be found dead and all my old B&W negs, Kodachrome slides, color negs and digital magical photographs will be acclaimed as “great photography” along with my bronze and wood sculptures and every piece of art I ever produced. Never mind all the accolades of your peers of your work. Or, look at what the Lord has created

    First, to be known as a photographer who took a great photograph you need to get into the heads of those who do the labeling. Good luck at that.

    All emotions make great photographs. Find them all, Bambi.

  6. Prabhjot says:

    All those photos evoke great emotions and are truly great. However, I believe that’s just half the story. There are umpteen more subjects and moments in passage of time that make great photos. I believe one doesn’t have to be a photo-journalist to snap a great moment.

  7. Claude B. says:

    Yes, superb moments in those great pictures.

    Note: watching, reading ans listening in only 3.5 seconds each !!!!

    Ok, I mute the sound. It is my choice in those three.

  8. J. Ross says:

    This might have been excellent if the pictures didn’t fly by so quickly. It’s hard to take in the picture and also read the text in the few seconds allotted. It was actually better in slide-show mode where the user determines when the photos advance; of course no narration then!

  9. K Smallwood says:

    Wonderful photos, some emotional but are doing the job of seeking a viewer. Slow down viewing process.

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