Why and How: Defining the Qualities of a Good Photographer – Part 1

You are certainly wondering if you are a good photographer. Your question is legitimate. The answer is not easy to give. You must answer objectively.

In addition, you certainly miss elements to define you.

In this article, I will give you a list of elements that constitute a completely objective analysis grid. I make an inventory of everything that seems important to me to define a good photographer.

These criteria will help you find an answer to your question.

Photograph in color of a landscape of Monument Valley.
Photograph in color of a landscape of Monument Valley.

You May Refuse the Obvious

When I ask a photographer if he thinks he is a good photographer, the answer is often no.

This may be the case for you. This is what I call " denying the obvious ". I knew that time when I lived in doubt. I refused to show my photos.

This response and attitude are often motivated by lack of self-confidence or by a misplaced ego.

I also think that many photographers have the qualities to become good photographers. They can create interesting photographs that make sense. But often they do not give themselves the means to become one.

The Story of This Article

A blog article is like a photograph. It is always interesting to know its story. It gives a light. It helps to better understand the why and the how.

This question of the good photographer tapped me for years. My scientific cursus always pushed me to ask questions and to look for answers.

I read dozens of books about photography. No author has ever taken the time to address this thorny issue.

Finally, over time, as an artist photographer, I have developed a list of points that seem interesting to me to define what is a good photographer.

It is the result of many years of reflection and work. It is only my opinion. It will certainly evolve over time. Photography is a world that changes often. But I thought it was interesting to share it in this article.

You Are Part of a Group of One Billion People

You are certainly one of the billion photographers in the world.

You may be practicing photography as an amateur or a professional. You use either a smartphone or a DSLR equipped with mirrors or a mirrorless camera.

But do you make interesting photographs that make sense? It is totally impossible to answer because everything depends on your tastes. Likewise, everything depends on the definition you give to the word “interesting”. It is a very subjective question that has no answer.

Still, I think it's possible to tell if a person is a good photographer. I think it's possible to define criteria that make it possible to be objective. It is possible to define if someone is a good photographer even if you do not appreciate his photographic approach and his works.

Before going into more detail of the grid, it seems very important to define what the words and concepts that I will detail.

Why Becoming a Good Photographer?

You are certainly wondering why the question is whether to be a good photographer.

The answer is simple. To make interesting and meaningful photographs, you must, as I explained in this article, define a photographic consciousness.

When you know where you stand in relation to others, you will understand the meaning of your photographic approach. You will be able to create different photos. You will be able to get out of the crowd. If you do not want to understand why you are doing photography, you will stay in the crowd. You will just copy the other photographers you like. You will not leave the mass. Finally, one day or the other by dint of not being recognized, you will stop practicing the photographer. It would be a shame!

Definition of a Photographer

The word photography was created by John Herschel in 1839. He was a British astronomer. He is considered a pioneer of photography.

The word is composed of two roots of Greek origin:

  • The prefix "photo": light, clarity.
  • The suffix "graphy": paint, draw, write.
Photography is a technical process that allows you to write with light.
In general, a photographer can be defined as a person who practices photography.

Definition of a Good Photographer

A good photographer is a person of his kind with above-average qualities.

But how to define the average? For me, being average in photography is when someone who knows at least the few theoretical bases of photography

  • Shutter speed.
  • Aperture.
  • Sensitivity.
  • Triangle of the exposition.
  • Rules of composition.
  • Framing rules.

I used the words "at least".

Indeed, these basics are necessary to be a photographer in the average. But I do not imply at all that because a person has more than this knowledge that she can be qualified as a good photographer. It is much more complex.

How to Become a Good Photographer

There is no magic recipe for becoming a good photographer. You can become one if you follow studies in art, photography or if you are self-taught.

I created an analysis grid with criteria that I called "quality". It is an objective grid, easy to understand.

I named each paragraph " Quality Number ". There is no chronology. Numbering is just a way for me to be clear and precise in my comments.

Quality 1: "Knowing How to Last"

To know if you are a good photographer, you must be able to judge you over time.

A photographer who has created some good photographs that have been recognized is not necessarily a good photographer.

Some good photographs do not make a good photographer.

Duration is an essential factor. When a photographer can create interesting series in the long term, it is because he has developed a real photographic approach. It can be called "good".

You can very well perform this test yourself. Look at how many photo series you have created. Analyze them. You will find the answer by yourself.

Quality 2: "Having a Clear Photographic Vision"

Your photographic vision reflects the way you see the world.

Photography with its language is a way to express yourself. Some people choose painting, others drawing, others writing.

Your vision is personal. It belongs only to you. It gives you the reason why you go on the ground to create photographs.

Your vision reflects what is often called the soul.

Your photographic vision allows you to find the balance you are looking for in your life. It gives a real meaning to your actions.

To be a good photographer, your vision must be clear and precise. If you are asked why you are creating photos, you must be able to respond by explaining your photographic vision.

Quality 3: "Having a Photographic Signature"

I believe that it is essential to have a clear and precise signature for all the series of photos that you will create.

The signature is certainly what will mark the most. When you look at your photographs, people will say, "It is one who created these photographs ". For me it is essential to be recognized.

The signature of a series is more precise than a style that remains general.

The signature reflects the way you shoot, but also the way you develop your photos.

Quality 4: « Having One or Several Photographic Styles »

Click Here to Read the Next Part of the Article.


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