Ask the Photo Business Coach: What Makes a Great Picture?

In this installment of “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I offer a simple answer to an oft-asked question: “What makes a great photo?”

10 Responses to “Ask the Photo Business Coach: What Makes a Great Picture?”

  1. Some good points here but really the more you understand photography the more you realise what a hard question that is to answer. Thanks for the post.

  2. "A great picture is what someone wants to buy and pay you money for... It's about delivering a message..." This is right on so many levels. As you reminded everyone it's also about your own idea of a great photograph. And doesn't this test the assumption that what you think is great other people will too? But "great" in my mind doesn't mean "sellable." Shouldn't we take caution to distinguish these two and carefully guard our true opinions from those of the buying public?

  3. @Sean Good points. As I discuss the matters of the business and all my teachings are geared toward making money that is the only way I look at it. Of course you can take great images that convey your message and choose to never share them. I personally believe that you should get compensated for your work. The more, the better. As long as someone pays you for your work you have done your job is the point I want to convey in the most simplistic sense.

  4. The "Image" is's not just a picture. It transcends the photo into the message....If someone cries; does anyone need to see tears? It helps the viewer understand something about the image that's deeper, almost an illusion.....then they get it. It's a simple seduction into a knowing they have been had.....and like it!
    That's a good picture! I have never been paid for a photo......yet. Take a look at mine and you will see seduction within the reflection.
    And you will know you have been had......and like it.
    Take care!

  5. An image is no different than a piece of music or poetry. It's about communication. And it should communicate on many levels; emotional, intellectual, informational. No matter what the purpose of the image, whether advertising, illustrating a manual or a family portrait, if it doesn't make the viewer feel something, even on a subconcious level, or show them something they didn't know before, it has failed. And to me the things an image conveys that cannot be framed by words are the most powerful.

  6. A great photograph is one that evokes an emotional response in the viewer. You really have to differentiate between "great" and "marketable". I've made a good deal of money on basic catalogue shots, and while they may have been technically perfect, they weren't "great". Now if you shoot an image that evokes that emotion and you get paid for it, then that's the perfect situation.

  7. well that wasn't a great picture, but I can bet that it was just off the highway running past Mt Vernon and that field you were standing in used to be strawberries. You might consider editing the asides the little white trangular roof in background means home to me... just a few more miles before the last stretch over the Skagit flats. other than that, not much. Great picture is very subjective like a great movie or anything else.

  8. @pogo yes, you are right it's exactly taken there. My videos are purposely guerilla style. For me they are about the content and if they are not too polished that adds to the authenticity.
    Great points about what a good picture is to you!! Thanks for all the comments.

  9. I love the spontaneity of this video and especially the message! A great image is the one thing we all strive for - to capture the emotion, personality, nuance of the moment, and to have someone value it as something personal to them.

    Great post!

  10. Thank you so much for this video! And the other 3 that I have watched so far:) This has always been my moto despite the sometimes boisterous disagreement from collegues. It is very refreshing that I am not the only one that shares this point of view.

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