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8 Details for Exceptional Photos

February 26, 2014 by Christina Harman

Photo opportunities are great. But there’s nothing worse than looking over your shots later, and realizing that you didn’t get a single one worth keeping.

If you’re like me, this happens from time to time. Fortunately though, you can take comfort in knowing that failure to capture beautiful imagery is not always a case of being completely inept with the camera! Creating beautiful photos is challenging, very challenging – and it involves more than just a great photo opportunity.

Capturing exceptional photos requires the ability to spot great photo opportunities – as well as knowledge on how to bring those opportunities to life. If you are looking for some ways to strengthen the impact of your photography, there are a few details that you shouldn’t overlook. Incorporating these details into your photos will help you to create visually strong images – and can help you to make the most of golden photo opportunities, when you have them!

  1. Exceptional Lighting

    Exceptional Details - 1
    photo by r. nial bradshaw

    The right lighting can turn an ordinary photo opportunity, into an extraordinary one. Study the sun and pay attention to how your compositions are affected by varying light conditions, and different times of the day. Becoming skilled at making the most of available light can have a big impact on the quality of your photos. Note how the colors and visual intensity of the light can have a major impact on your subjects.

    Often, the difference between an acceptable photograph and an exceptional one is the lighting.

  2. A Powerful Composition

    Exceptional Details - 2
    photo by Amri HMS

    A strong composition is an important part of any creative art. Paintings, design, music, and photography included. Composition is defined as a “unified and harmonious whole,” and in photography, an image with good composition is one in which all of the elements work together to create a compelling result.

    When composing your shot, pay attention to the overall composition. Making use of strong colors, supporting elements, shadows, light, form, and other details can help to create a strong and compelling image. Mastering the basic facets of what makes a great composition will put you well on your way to producing exceptional photography.

  3. Important Details

    Exceptional Details - 3
    photo by William Warby

    The beauty’s in the details, at least when it comes to photography. When composing images, look for details can help to set the context. Adding in some foreground or background interest can help to add an additional dimension to the image, and in some cases, including some of the surrounding area into a photo can help to tell the story.

    Zooming in to focus on some of the smaller details that are easily missed is another way to spark your viewer’s interest, allowing them to imagine the rest of the scene.

  4. A Simplified Composition

    Exceptional Details - 4
    photo by U.S. Army

    While details can help to create a great image, unnecessary details just get in the way. When composing your shot, look for simplified backgrounds, and cut back on everything that you don’t need in your image. Don’t feel like you have to include everything in your viewfinder, simplified imagery is powerful.

  5. An Image With a Message

    Exceptional Details - 5
    photo by U.S. Army

    Powerful images tell a story; one that is powerful and intriguing. Invoking a viewer’s imagination and sense of intrigue is important in order to create a compelling image. Many of the enduring photographs that have stood the test of time are images that are powerful, ones that leave the viewer pondering the image and its story. The goal of photography is not to merely report the scene at hand, instead your job is to distil the scene, and interpret it as you see it, imparting a meaningful message to your viewers.

  6. A Strong Subject

    Exceptional Details - 6
    photo by Ali Arsh

    Strong visual images are ones that have a clear subject or focal point. A strong focal point tells your viewers what your image is all about. If your photos don’t have a clear focal point, your viewers won’t know what they are looking at. A clear and well-defined point of interest is an important part of any composition.

  7. The Right Perspective

    Exceptional Details - 7
    photo by limeabeans

    Your perspective will show through into every photo that you take. Your perspective will influence, and directly impact your photos. When composing your shots, try to think about your perception and interpretation of the scene at hand, and try to capture that vision in your work.

  8. Enthusiasm

    Exceptional Details - 8
    photo by chattygd

    Photos taken without enthusiasm are uninspired and meaningless. If you’re not excited about your subjects, then why would your viewers be?

    Your enthusiasm, or lack thereof, will show through into your compositions. Chances are that your best photos are the ones that you take of subjects that interest you. Find a niche that interests you, and photograph what you are drawn to. The results may surprise you! Taking photo opportunities that interests you and being inspired to capture the moment will help your photos to really come alive.

Remember, your goal as a photographer is to capture the essence of a scene, a decisive moment that distils the entire scene at hand, along with the accompanying emotions, perspective, and opinions surrounding the scene. As photographers, it’s our job to look for beauty and meaning in the world, and to capture that meaning in the form of a single, compelling image – one that speaks volumes without saying a word.

Christina Harman

About the author: Christina Harman

Christina is a part time blogger and full time photography enthusiast living in Southeast Alaska. She enjoys travel photography and has taken pictures in countries such as Mexico, England, France, and China. She likes sunny days, new lenses and drinking good coffee. You can visit her at My Falling Leaves or on Google+.