PHOTO TIP: 7 Steps to a Make Great Photograph

Workshop Information:

Web Site :



Beat the Drum © Jack Graham Photography


7 Steps to Make a Great Photograph                                                                            

© Jack Graham Photography

Of course knowing how to technically photograph a scene is important and assuming one can competently perform that task, there are other important aspects that one muse consider  when making interesting and pleasing photographs. Of course, ones definition of interesting can vary. These 7 components are, in my opinion essential in creating images that viewers will react to, and enjoy.




Yellowstone NP ©Jack Graham Photography


 You have heard this many times. The components of the image must fall into place and transmit the message of the image to the viewer. The image must be impactive, and one that creates interest in the viewers brain. Often the main subject stands on its own allowing the detail in the image to act like an orchestra, accompanying a soloist.





OneontaPhotography Simplicity Gorge, Oregon ©Jack Graham Photography


Elements of Surprise

Great photographs show the viewer something unexpected. As storm over the desert, old subject matter rather than new, fast flowing water in a stream that is normally peaceful, beauty in a subject that is normally considered harsh are just a few examples.

Storm over My Whitney, Ca © Jack Graham Photography

Bleeding Heart, Oregon © Jack Graham Photography


This component is maybe the most important. Simple photographs just work. Areas of confusion in a photograph sometimes referred to as clutter, draws ones eye away from the primary subject.

Lone Gull ©Jack Graham Photography

 Next time you are our making photographs, weather you are doing landscape, macro, wildlife etc, and before you press the shutter, say to yourself “ OK, now how can I simplify the scene just a bit better” Keep simplicity in mind at all times.

 Strong reaction 

One might this reaction is the same as the element of surprise. It is not. Reactions are felt  in many ways. A photograph of an old building might bring back memories of a time past. A photograph of an ocean scene my evoke memories of visiting or photographing a similar area.

Reactions to an image results from the unexpected. We have all see images of a nice pond, in good light. However add in a rainbow, and you have a totally different image. You’ll react to that one!

Rainbow over Pond, Columbia RiverPhotography StrongPhotography MakePhotography OtherPhotography The Gorge, OR © Jack Graham Photography

Aspens in the Sky © Jack Graham Photography

Strong subject

If there is no subject, there is no image. Subjects need not be objects or people. Subjects can be color, patterns or both. The topic of strong subject matter has been discussed and written about for thousands of years. Subjects are not just subjects. They must have components within themselves. Tonality, texture, shape and size go into making a subject.

 Placing the subject to work within the composition is essential. Shadows and juxtaposition can also aid in formation of strong subject formation.  Now you have a strong, subject, a strong composition, though simple. What is left? You must now make sure that the subject fits in the scene in the proper area. Yes, the rule of thirds is often quoted when discussing how subjects fit into a scene but that’s just part of it.

Dahlia © Jack Graham Photography

Blooming saguaro ©Jack Graham





Now you have a strong subject and a strong composition, and one that is relatively simple. What’s Left? You must now make sure that your subject fits into the scene, in the proper area. Yes, the rule of thirds is often quoted when discussing this topic, but thats just part of it. Other considerations regarding the subject must be part of your thinking. Tonality, and color are both important. Working with the available patterns must be considered. In other words, allow the subject to work in a positive way with the scene.

Old Man, Paris © Jack Graham Photography


The image must hold your interest

Above all, an image must attain interest from the viewer. I sometimes refer this as my 5 second rule. If an image does not gain my full attention, and make me want to study the image and derive all that it is about in 5 seconds, I move on. Sometimes great images can be of everyday things. We do not need El Capitan, in great light to make a great image that holds your interest.  Images should send messages to our brains, allowing us admire and enjoy them.

I love this image. The “Old Man” leaning left, with his cane, the buildings and cars just make this image work so well. It’s not just the grad landscape of interesting macro shot. Scenes like this can hold interest just as well.








One thought on “PHOTO TIP: 7 Steps to a Make Great Photograph”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s