What Makes a Good Photo?


Is There a Special Technique or Something I Can Learn?

Article – What makes a good photo? – August 2009

In February last year I was looking around an entire gallery of competition winners and one thing that struck me was the fact that I struggled to find an image that hadn’t been heavily Photoshopped. Don’t get me wrong, there were some amazing images there and quite deservedly so but it got me thinking about what makes an image good!

I change my mind from one day to the next as to what makes a photo really good. One day I get annoyed at those heavily manipulated images that seem to be all the rage with many photographers these days and the next day I am loving them, processing and creating them myself!

For example, the following image from a recent wedding I shot was a set up from the start, from an idea I had when I saw the brides hotel bedroom. It was taken with just the camera and lens, nothing else. However, it has been through about 8 or 9 processes in Lightroom and Photoshop to get the end result. That result is exactly as


You and Your Comfort Zone


Take risks and challenges head on with your photography business

Expanding on a previous article on “starting out“, I want to tell you a quick story!

One thing I have learnt over the years and especially so with my photography business is to step out of my comfort zone once in a while. It is all too easy for anyone to amble along through life keeping the reigns tightly held back on your hobby, job or career and settle for the easy route whilst deep inside you have a passion for running your own photography business one day!

Life is too short…

What holds most people back is the fear of failure or messing up a paying clients’ images coupled with the notion and fear of not “making it” in the world of professional photography. I also read regularly about people “not being quite ready” just yet.

These fears are hard to overcome and there is not much I or anyone else can say to make you feel like the time is right…it is never right! After all it took Thomas Edison 10,000 failures to finally perfect the light


Starting Out in Photography

Starting Out in Photography

Becoming successful in photography, whether personally or professionally, can seem like an uphill slog sometimes so how can you make it easier?

The main thing to remember and concentrate on is your mindset! Think like a photographer for long enough and you will become one.

Sounds strange? Well, your mind is the most powerful asset you have and can also be the most destructive. If you continuously think you cannot do something, you won’t…period! If you truly believe in yourself and stay persistent in your efforts, you can achieve anything.

Don’t be put off by naysayers or beautiful portfolios that you come across, be inspired and motivated by them.

Don’t be put off by the sheer number of photographers out there doing business all around you if you are in a built up, busy area. Just understand that it is a huge market and you can easily grab your own share if that is what you want. The more working photographers in your area, the more work that is probably available, see it as a positive thing!

Don’t be put off by


Film Photography A Great Place to Start

Putting a Roll of Film Through an Old SLR Will Teach You New Skills!

Recently, a good friend of mine Todor Ostojic asked for some advice as to what SLR I would recommend for him to learn the basics of film photography using kit from the 70’s and 80’s. His reason for this was that he felt he had somehow “cheated” his way into photography by going straight into digital.

Some of the cameras I mentioned were the SLR’s I drooled over as a penniless teenage newbie to photography back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Cameras such as the Canon A1 or AE-1 Program, the sturdy Olympus OM-1, OM-2, and OM-10 with cool manual adapter, that you plugged into the side of the camera. Then there was the solid, reliable Nikon FM range.


Whilst I think that digital photography still presents a challenge and still requires the same skills to shoot great photography, I kind of agree that nothing beats the old school film photography learning curve that lasted for well over a century. I am talking about:

  • Complete manual control of your camera with sometimes the most basic of metering
  • The skill of loading a film into the camera in the dark

The Camera Phone

The Camera Phone With Video, Worth Upgrading To?

In the past we have considered adding a section devoted to your camera phone to ATP but felt the resolution and popularity of most mobile phones with cameras didn’t justify it. Now however, most mobile phones being manufactured include a high quality camera and video feature as well as all the other goodies that they pack into mobile phones these days.

Do you use the camera much on your mobile phone? Do you use the video? How important would you say the camera feature is when buying a new cell phone camera? Please share your thoughts, ideas and images at the bottom of this page, we would love to hear from you!

We will start to incorporate camera phone photography into ATP now that they have better:

  • Resolution
  • Flash
  • Mega-pixels
  • Quality
  • Ease of uploading images to the web
  • Focussing
  • Tracking
  • Video
  • Face recognition
  • …the list goes on

So it may be time to start looking into how to take better photos with your camera’s phone.

Because these mobile phones and their cameras are so incredibly portable, we are seeing a huge surge of images being taken at venues that:

  1. Don’t allow traditional cameras
  2. Are generally not suited for bulkier cameras

Camera phones are great for parties, nights out, day trips or

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning Lenses, Sensors, Mirrors…

Digital camera cleaning and maintenance is something many photographers (including myself) neglect to do with sometimes costly consequences.

It is too easy to come home after a days shooting, whip out the memory card, have a play with your new images and forget all about maintenance of your kit.

If you are like me, anything new that I buy over time (car, motorbike, watch, glasses etc), get cleaned immaculately at least once a day. Then after a few weeks it falls to once a week or so and then just “on the odd occasion” or when they look really dirty.

Because photography is my livelihood, I have to physically make myself grab my camera bag, go and sit somewhere quiet and take a good half an hour to an hour after a shoot to clean every piece of equipment that I have used.

This kit has cost thousands and its cleanliness has a direct bearing on the quality of my images and the longevity of its use. Not only that but as I upgrade my equipment, I may want to sell on my old cameras at the best price.

These are the checks that I make;

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Lenses

Obviously take great

Learning to See Creatively

An Article By Ken Caleno

Learning to see creatively

Developing a creative eye is about seeing things in a different way; a personal visual opinion rather than obvious point of view.

When we first use a camera we take pictures of all the obvious things around us, landmarks, people we know, family pets, Uncle George etc. This is all a very necessary part of learning photography and after repeatedly taking these pictures, boredom starts to creep in.

If we get bored enough, we tend to look further than the obvious for our photographic subjects, hopefully encouraging us to interpret these subjects in a different manner – but, as we so often see, some people continuously take boring pictures, until they become experts at doing so.

The problem is that we all have pre-conceived ideas about how something should look, and that is what we photograph, so if we want to be creative we must drop these pre-conceptions, and start looking at things from a small child’s “innocence”.

  • What would a worm see if it looked up?
  • Spend a day taking photos of everyday things from a height of 600mm to 800mm, how a small child would view them.
  • Isolate part of an overall scene, using the camera’s viewfinder.
  • Show things how

Beginning Digital Photography

So you have bought a DSLR (Digital SLR)…now what?

You are beginning digital photography and have just joined the world of the “keen amateur photographer” and bought yourself a new Digital SLR, but what do all those bits and buttons actually do?

The way things were going with pricing and technology with regard to digital cameras, I saw a definite boom about to happen with regard to Digital SLR sales back in 2004. Now a good few years on I couldn’t have been more right!

For people who have previously owned film cameras or simple point and shoot digital cameras, and now as prices start to fall for the more exclusive semi professional DSLR’s, the opportunity to join the rest of us in the exciting world of the DSLR (Digital SLR) is more affordable than ever when beginning digital photography.

This new breed of cameras is quite simply amazing and I sometimes despair when I read reviews and forum comments that air their disappointment when a new camera just released hasn’t addressed the issue of “having to go to the menu” to make an alteration, for example.

When you are reading reviews about a certain digital SLR camera that you wish to buy, please take them with a pinch of

Donald Blumberg Photographs Observing America on the Streets and From the Sofa

NEW HAVEN — There’s real life, and there’s media; there are the spaces outside we inhabit together, and there is the screen we gaze at alone. Yet the photographs of Donald Blumberg, subject of a large retrospective at the Yale University Art Gallery here, make the distinction between reality and image feel overdrawn. Mr. Blumberg began his career shooting on the streets of New York, but by the late 1960s he had turned his lens away from real spaces, preferring to shoot the television in his living room. As the nearly 200 images here attest, the gap between one and the other is smaller than you’d think. Outside or inside, photographing or rephotographing, Mr. Blumberg observes an America in transition and in crisis, via a medium whose assumed veracity he never stopped questioning.

Mr. Blumberg was born in 1935 and initially trained as a biologist, turning to photography only after a formative trip to Europe. His street photography of the early 1960s consists of fluent, if unexceptional, shots of a demotic New York: passengers on a ferry, apartment dwellers sitting in window sills, a painted sign for a Spanish-language church.

One day,

Viking Attacks and Group Photos

Contributing editor Jim Richardson is a photojournalist recognized for his explorations of small-town life. His photos appear frequently in National Geographic magazine.

While cruising the wild Hebridean seas, we were attacked by Vikings. Beset, we were, by wild men—and women—returned to their ancient haunts, and bedecked in their ancient garb.

Otherwise, it was a nice evening.

Touring the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis had been glorious (as it always is) and the Zodiacs were waiting to take us back to the National Geographic Explorer. Looking like orange-clad doughboys in our life vests, we were facing stiff winds when the Vikings appeared in a side cove. And, glory be, they were a friendly lot, dispensing very welcome hot toddies and looking ever so fearsome in their (plastic) horned helmets. It was a moment that called out for a group photo.

Which brings me (at long last) to my core question: Which is worse, being attacked by Vikings or having to take a group photo?

Being the photographer saddled with group photo duties is made all the worse because many of the hapless subjects feel like they are being subjected to torture and will not go willingly to their fate. The rest seize the moment

7 Quick Landscape Composition Guidelines

Visit most any photo site on the web, and the vast majority of images you’ll see are of people, nature and architecture. These are the overarching topics that are then subdivided – people in foreign lands, formal portraiture, kids, etc. / landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, etc. / cityscapes, isolated iconic buildings, close ups of buildings and their reflections, etc. While the text and sample images of this article focus on landscapes, the same principles can be applied to most of the listed subjects above. So study the following hints and tips and think how you can substitute Subject A, B, or C into each.

It’s All About the Light: The most dramatic light occurs at sunrise and sunset. The color is warm, it reveals shape and texture due to the low angle, and if there are clouds, the colors can be spectacular. While being out at sunset isn’t much of a sacrifice, getting up at the crack of dawn can be a struggle. But if you don’t, you’ll miss some of the best light of the day.

Think Small: Landscapes are commonly photographed with wide angle lenses to take in the grand scenic. While this is an absolute requirement, don’t overlook the intimate

Freezing Water

Contributing editor Jim Richardson is a photojournalist recognized for his explorations of small-town life. His photos appear frequently in National Geographic magazine.

Perhaps unlocking one creative door opens another.

Somehow that’s how I felt dashing back to the Zodiacs to leave Thistle Fjord in Iceland, flush with confidence from my photographic encounter with the bird wing. If I could break through that creative barrier, what other challenges would succumb to me?

Then I remembered the cascading waterfall near our landing site. Nothing huge, just crystal clear waters sweeping past the ancient farm and dancing down over the rocks to the sea. With a couple of minutes to spare, perhaps I could pull off one more image.

First, a bit of photographic background. Waterfall pictures are moving perilously close to being clichés. I say “close” because I doubt we humans will ever lose our fascination with the delights of cascading water plunging dramatically from on high. But … the techniques used to capture waterfall pictures have become standard fare. The most common current rage is to use a long, very slow shutter speed to turn the water into silky, silvery curtains of liquid smoothness. And lovely pictures they are. It’s just that the style has

Learn How Photo Restoration Can Help to Revive Old Memories Digitally

To restore old photos is to restore old memories. Your child’s first day of school, your own sixteenth birthday, your parents wedding- all these are memories you never want to get rid of. Even for those who want to make family trees, photos are necessary. But what if your photos are damaged? No need to get upset. Everything can be restored and repaired in this day and age. By having everything in digital form, reviving old memories becomes more convenient.

Photo restoration is the process by which old and damaged photos can be salvaged. In previous times, a single scratch, fold or drop of water- and the photo was considered damaged forever. They required immense professional skill to be fixed again. But in this age of computers, almost anyone can fix a damaged photo in a jiffy. Almost every computer comes with inbuilt software that can help restore photos. Even a child is able to get rid of scratches and blemishes. Restoration can also be used to add more color to the photo.

Photo restoration is really useful when the original picture was shot in really dim light. Photo repair options can make the picture brighter. A digital scan of the photo

5 Tips On How To Take Great Water Photos

There are many water forms that you can use to make great photos. Some of these forms include: breaking waves and cascading waterfalls. For you to create take awesome water photos you need to put a number of tips into consideration. These tips include:

Freeze Water

There is no way you will take great photos if you don’t freeze the water. One of the most effective ways of doing this is using a very fast shutter speed. This calls for you to set your camera to its fastest shutter speed.

Be Cautious When Shooting Large Waves

Waves are great when you shoot them properly. You should note that the larger the wave, the more dramatic it is. To take excellent photos you should use a lens with a long focal length. You should also remember to keep your distance when taking the photos.

Use Reflection To Your Advantages

Water has a great reflective quality; therefore, you should take advantage of it. For ideal results you should shoot in more than one direction while paying a lot of attention to the position of the sun.

To add interest to your photos you should try shooting early in the morning or late in the day. The cool thing with

4 Reasons Why You Need A Good Tripod

A tripod is one of the pieces of gear that differentiates a pro from an amateur. The tripod is usually perceived as cumbersome or additional work thus many beginners don’t bother with it. For you to appear like a professional, it’s paramount that you have a tripod. When getting the tripod, you should ensure that you get the best that you can. The benefits of getting a good tripod include:

Easy To Set Up

A good tripod is easy to set up-you don’t struggle putting things in order. The easy-to-set-up feature is of great importance when you are taking nature photos. The special moments don’t last for a long time; therefore, you need to be fast.

To make your work easy when setting the tripod, you should try out different designs when you are at the camera store. Here you should try to set up the different designs and settle on the one that is ideal for you.


The main function of a tripod is to keep your camera still; therefore, for your camera to be stable, you need a good tripod. When your camera is stable, the camera stops moving completely when you lock it on the head of the tripod.

If you are

The Importance of Good Product Photography

The look and feel of any online store or e-commerce site can be said to be captivating only if the images of the products and services sold are visually attractive and enhances the sale of the product or service. In fact, we come across many online sites across industry segments that have a wide range of products but very limited display or a poor one at that. In the absence of physical touch and feel experience that a prospective buyer has in a physical retail store, any unanswered questions about the product will only culminate in lost sales.

Here’s where the importance of product pages to any and every e-commerce site is underscored. The product images or product photographs provide the ‘final push’ in a prospective buyer becoming a customer.

After all, images speak louder than words and pictures can do the actual selling because even a casual visitor to a site is influenced by product photographs especially if they are displayed in a manner that is convincing and provides answers to many questions – e.g. what are sizes, shapes, colors, dimensions, fabric or material, durability etc., depending upon the category of product.

Some of the aspects that are important in product photography

Seven Tips for Runway Photographers

1. Study the Field

In discussing photographing fashion shows with Ben, we took a look at the photographs of past runway fashion shows to consider what framing/composition ideas would work for the shoot. New York Fashion has a great section of runway images to study: notice the amount of room left below shoes and above the models heads in the full length photographs, and notice the relationship of model to background.

2. Position is Key

Expect a crowd fighting over the best positions to photograph from, and realize that you’ll need to get there early and also have the proper permissions from the organizers. (At the big events, of course, there is a process requiring a press pass and often you’ll need to request one months ahead.) If you get a great spot, do your best to keep it and maintain enough room to do your work. Before throwing any elbows or harsh words at the other photographers, though, remember you may see the same group at the next event. Probably better to make some new friends. If you can get access, also consider that “behind the scenes” photographs might also be useful. Consider also hanging out after the fashion show and handing

The Beach – A Photography Haven

The beach scene is one of the most commonly photographed because the beach is a naturally beautiful location and also because people on the beach are usually relaxing and are casually having loads of fun. This makes it possible for photographers to choose between portrait photography, landscape or a combination. Beach photography therefore is versatile with a ton of options from the photographer’s perspective.

Beach photography is mostly about movement because you always have the moving waters in the background. It is vital that the photographer knows how to balance the stillness of the image with the movement of water. You would easily be able to master this if you keep the motion and the amount of it in memory when clicking pictures. When there is a lot of motion, this will actually overshadow the parts that are not in movement and so the pictures need to be clicked when the water is not much in motion.

The lighting in the beach photography solely depends on natural lighting. Many a times there is the brightness of natural sunlight causing issues with the pictures. However, people have started getting used to his interference. It is vital to remember that white sand can cause

What makes a good photo?

In February last year I was looking around an entire gallery of competition winners and one thing that struck me was the fact that I struggled to find an image that hadn’t been heavily Photoshopped. Don’t get me wrong, there were some amazing images there and quite deservedly so but it got me thinking about what makes an image good!

I change my mind from one day to the next as to what makes a photo really good. One day I get annoyed at those heavily manipulated images that seem to be all the rage with many photographers these days and the next day I am loving them, processing and creating them myself!

For example, the following image from a recent wedding I shot was a set up from the start, from an idea I had when I saw the brides hotel bedroom. It was taken with just the camera and lens, nothing else. However, it has been through about 8 or 9 processes in Lightroom and Photoshop to get the end result. That result is exactly as I imagined it and I actually quite like the end result…

However, a short time later during another semi-posed session, things broke down during the set

Top 10 Must Haves for Successful Photography

How did you get into photography? Can you really make a good living shooting photos? These are a couple of the questions I get asked by friends, models and trainees. I recently visited a family friend whose son recently graduated and had really become interested in photography. He purchased a nice camera body and a few lenses and had already shot a number of beautiful scenic shots. As we were visiting, the questions above surfaced. I feel like I have had this conversation a number of times, but I still love sharing what I have learned on the journey.

As a photographer and media designer, I get to do a lot of fun things and call it work. Few people get to wake up in the morning and do what they are passionate about day after day. Life is far too short to work an 8-5 job that slowly sucks the life out of you. I’m sure if you are reading this you are well aware of that fact, but the challenge is how to make the transition. It’s a scary endeavor to start a photography business. I have come up with the following list of tips to help the newcomer