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Good Photography Techniques: What Makes a Good Photo?

by Richard Lynch

Good photography techniques Example 1
Good photography techniques Example 1
© Richard Lynch
All Rights Reserved
When it comes to what comprises good photography techniques, there are pure, simple facts. Good photography techniques take into account many things:
  • lighting/shadow,
  • composition,
  • exposure,
  • subject,
  • story,
  • color,
  • contrasts,
  • sharpness,
  • depth of field, and
  • other - often intangible - things.
A good photo is one with great orchestration of the facets of photography, that ends in a pleasing image. Likely there is a little bit of luck tossed into our salad of preparation, positioning and equipment.

Fog Over Long Pond (color)
Fog Over Long Pond (color)
© Richard Lynch
All Rights Reserved

In the End, All That Matters is the Final Image

There are no bonus points for dangling from helicopters except in that it may offer the right perspective. A great photo, whether captured of a penned animal or one in the wild, is still a great photo. The final image is what the viewer sees... no less or more because of the subject or how it was captured. Passion for a subject should be evident in the photography of it.

There is no one philosophy that will capture a great image, but any great image will encompass all these things.

I think the ideals are reinforced by the perceptions of Ansel Adams, and I have collected a few of his attributed comments on good photography techniques here:

Grasses Like Feathers
Grasses Like Feathers
© Richard Lynch
All Rights Reserved

Ansel Adams on What Makes a Good Photograph

  • A good photograph is knowing where to stand.
  • A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.
  • A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.

On the rules for making a good photograph:
  • There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

On luck in making photos:
  • Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter.

Empty Benches
Empty Benches
© Richard Lynch
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More Ansel Adams Quotes on Good Photography Techniques

On perspective of observing photos:
  • A photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into.
  • There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.

On how to take an image:
  • To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.

On photography and the creative spirit:
  • No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.

The Whip
The Whip
© Richard Lynch
All Rights Reserved

Share Your Photography ... And Enjoy!

To me, wherever there are opportunities, I am glad to share the joy of photography, at whatever level. Photographs need not be marred by griping discussion for what an image could have been, if only... Shots can be satisfactory as an amateur or professional, and only your own expectations of what is good will change. Images can be explored in greater depth and improved in image processing to bring out more - as Adams often did himself as an artisan in the wet darkroom, which today we can all explore without chemicals using Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

As you explore your photography on whatever level, and as your skills develop, enjoy it for what it is. Enjoy a sense of accomplishment in how you improve or improve your images, and your skills. Resist the urge to be overly critical and poison the water that keeps your interest in images and photography growing.

A good photo is always the one you are about to take, and it can be better for what you learned from the experience you gain as you shoot.

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Richard Lynch
Photography Instructor: Richard LynchRichard Lynch has written 9 books on Photoshop and image editing. His expertise was born following interests in photography and design, honed as the editor and designer of a photography book publishing house and perfected by working with his own images. His photographic techniques and Photoshop work are steeped in darkroom tradition and photographic theory. He has spent more than 20 years adapting the darkroom to solid digital techniques, and is confident that he can make any image more than it was when it was shot using the digital darkroom.

American born and a US resident, Richard currently lives in Romania where he runs photo tours. He teaches courses for digital photographers and hobbyists in photography and Photoshop online and in the classroom. His articles have been in a variety of publications online and in print, including Popular Photography, PCPhoto, Advanced Photoshop, Digital Photography Techniques, and Photo Techniques. His books tend to fall outside of the series typical series algorithm. His latest book, The Adobe Photoshop Layers Book (, was the first and only book devoted specifically to Photoshop layers when it first came out in 2007. A completely new edition of the layers book was released for 2012.

In his ‘spare’ time, Richard experiments with both modern and vintage equipment (like manual-focus lenses, extension tubes, modifications), and devises new and better schemes for image editing (often in the shower). His creative prose has been published in a variety of literary magazines and online. A culinary background and interest in malt beverages led him to competitive beer brewing, and has won awards for his brews in national competitions in the US. Richard enjoys target shooting, a skill not unlike photography, and has a strong knowledge of pellet guns and rifle optics born of his interest in camera lenses and plinking little plastic army guys. He lives to follow his interest, sneak in a little fun, and is in possession of more camera and computer equipment than anyone realistically needs – but he can justify all of it.

See his website:

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