Open-ended questions always seems vast at first; when being assigned this type of question for an assignment—especially if it’s not for a philosophy class—I often feel that even though I have a multitude of paths to take, that making the decision on which is follow is quite difficult.
When I was assigned to answer the question “what makes a good photograph?” I was once again a bit uncertain of where to venture. Yet as I explored the many avenues in my mind, I decided that making a “good” photograph wasn’t very difficult at all.
Think about it; what does it take for an object, an art form, or even a person to be “good”? The answer: not much. In fact, I’m of the opinion that being “good” simply means you aren’t “bad” but it doesn’t—by any means—imply that you’re something fantastic.
Mark Twain once said, “keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
This quote–which also happens to be one of my favorites–answers the question perfectly. A great photography makes you feel that you, too, can create great photos. It inspires, draws in your imagination, and causes you to temporarily escape from the multi-dimension world we live in to a world where only still images exist. And the thing is, you’re okay with that as long as the photo truly is great.
The difference between a “good” and “great” photograph is passion. “Great” photographs reveal the life and soul of the photographer behind them. They are more than just something to capture a moment, but the essence of time frozen in pure clarity and perfection. “Great” photographs breathe; they tell stories. “Great” photographers keep living on after the photographer clicks the shutter button.
When answering this weeks topic, I could have pointed out examples of photographs I consider “good” and ones labeled as “bad.” I could have shown you, not told you, the difference. I could have argued that a certain photograph was better than another because of the angle, the lighting, or the focus. But all of those things—just like the quality of the photo—are subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If a photograph doesn’t aim to be great, it isn’t. But ultimately, that’s not always for me to decide.