005 What Makes A Good Photo?

What Makes A Good Photo? Photography Tips Series by Zoe Newlove


Finally, another part to my Photography Series. Sorry for not posting last week, I was extremely busy and did not have time to finalise a post. Nevertheless, everything happens for a reason, as I was then invited later that week to attend a photography course with Jessops. 

This got me to thinking, here I am telling you what photography equipment to buy, and then how to use your posh cameras, with a little insight to how I edit my photographs, but actually, what does make a good photo? In today’s post I am going to try and take what I learned from Jessops, and summarize what the differences between a good and bad photo are.


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When you are flicking through your photos, deciding on which ones made the cut, your eye will be drawn to certain images for a reason. The composition will be nicer, it might look nicer in black and white, the object just off centre stands out or a certain pattern is appealing. Today I want to talk to you about how you can make sure you can get the winning shots, with each and every click of your camera.

One of the things that I had never considered before, stood out to me during the Jessops Photography workshop. Our trainer began explaining what makes a good photo, and decided to talk about Picture Styles firstly before anything else.


In your cameras, whether it be an iPhone, an Olympus Pen or a DSLR, you will have the option to change the picture style. This means you could shoot in black and white, or sepia tone, or add a different filter/ tint over your image, before you have even taken it. At first, I did not see the positive of this, and just mumbled to myself something about doing it in Photoshop afterwards but actually, why not add a tint before you shoot? This allows you to see your subject in an entirely different way and therefore, those magic moments are never missed. I rarely shoot in this way but I definitely will do from now on.

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One of the most important rules of photography, is understanding rule of thirds.  When framing your subject, pay attention to where the horizon line is in relation to your key subject. To make it easier, think of your subject with a grid over the top – like the crop tool you get on your phones or Photoshop. The horizontal and vertical lines, the points where they meet, these are the key areas for setting up a good composition.

 However, and I cannot stress this enough – use this as a guideline, a rough idea of how to frame a photograph. 


 With this in mind, when looking at your grid, don’t feel you always have to put the main subject bang in the centre of your composition. You can still have a strong composition with your subject slightly to the left, or over to the right. Or like the image of the camera above, I framed it to be at the bottom of the image, rather than the centre. Have a play around with your crops and frames, make the most of your built in view-finders.


Next up, notice shapes and lines within your composition. So when taking photos of architecture, the lines of the buildings will be drawing your eye in, these are leading lines. If you have a good model, when doing fashion photography, the model should create a line (a shape) with her body. In my opening image, the book edge leads you into the centre of the photograph.


When taking my beauty selfies, I always make sure my eyes are in focus – every single time. If for whatever reason they are slightly out of focus, I will then Sharpen them in Photoshop as the eyes make every difference to a good and a bad photo. Let’s go to America’s Next Top Model, and Tyra Banks tells the models time and time again to “smise”. Smile with your eyes. Your eyes are so important to a photograph, so whether you are taking photographs of your self or working with someone else, ensure that you focus on the eye. 


One of my favourite things about photography is playing with shadow and light, making the most of reflective surfaces and building in symmetry. I take the majority of my photos on a glass surface, right in front of a window and in natural light. I just love moving around with my camera and studying the area before I actually make a decision in how I want my photographs to look. It’s good to just look in the view finder without clicking away, to find out which angles work best, which edges catch the light, or fall under shadow. Sometimes I even use mirrors to really play up a reflective surface. Check out my photos below to see what I mean.

Image 21-03-2016 at 11.52 Image 21-03-2016 at 11.52 (1)



One other thing to consider, is the overall colour of your image. From the colour that the camera captures, to the colours you put together when arranging your composition. I will cover colour and pattern in more detail when discussing Lighting & Background / Props. 

I just thought I would throw in the images that I took on the day of the Jessops Photography Course. As well as learning about what makes a good photo, we were told about Shutter Speed, Motion Blur, Aperture and more in great detail. I won a prize for taking the last photo here. I must admit, it took me a good while to figure out how to do this shot, but it was so much fun. My point? Have patience when creating your photographs. Keep on going until you are happy, don’t give up. You will get there.

Don’t forget to let me know any questions you may have for this ongoing series and thank you for all your support so far. 


Catch up on the rest of the posts in this series: