A good photograph is....

Started Mar 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
apaflo Veteran Member • Posts: 3,854
Re: A good photograph is....

Trevor Carpenter wrote:

a) a representation of what you saw

I take that to be meant literally, and of course no photograph literally represents the scene as seen by the photographer.  Photographs do not ever represent "reality".

A photograph is a way to communicate via visual perception and symbols, hence if the photograph conveys to the viewer the concept the photographer wanted to create in the viewer's mind, it is a good photograph.

b) a representation of what you would have liked to have seen

In some ways that could be thought of as above.

c) an image that appeals both to you and others regardless of what you actually saw

That is virtually always going to be true of a good photograph.

something I think about a lot

Visual perception of art is a topic that Rudolph Arnheim (1904-2007) wrote about and taught.  "Art and Visual Perception" is a text originally published in 1954, and then revised entirely and re-published in 1974.  It is more or less the most significant text on this topic.

One of Arnheim's more interesting essays (he wrote many) titled "Entropy and Art" is available on line, at  www.kenb.ca/z-aakkozzll/pdf/arnheim.pdf and is well worth reading, though not exactly an easy read.

A good perspective on what a photograph is or is not can be learned from what Garry Winogrand had to say.  Winogrand (1928-1984) was a Street Photographer at his best in the 1960's and 1970's. John Szarkowski, for 30 years the Director of Photography at the New York Museum of Modern Art, called Winogrand "the central photographer of his generation."

"Photography is not about the thing photographed.  It is about how that thing looks photographed." -- Garry Winogrand

"There isn't a photograph in the world that has any narrative ability, any of them. They do not tell stories, they show you what something looks like, through a camera. The minute you relate this thing to what was photographed, it's a lie. It's two dimensional, it's illusional ..." -- Garry Winogrand http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQhZcKzbM9s

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