marseille

How important is ‘image quality’ (aesthetics) of a photograph to make it a great photo?

When does image quality or the aesthetics of the photograph matter?

For example, below are some pictures I shot on 35mm film (Portra 400). Note the subtle grain, and color ‘irregularity’.

My personal opinion:

Color photography is great on color film (Kodak Portra 400).

Why? Because the problem with digital color photography is this: the colors are ‘too clean’.

The upside of digital medium format color photography

An alternative: ‘positive film’ color JPEG setting on PENTAX 645z (digital medium format camera).

What I love about the PENTAX 645z for color:

  1. When shooting JPEG (positive film preset), the colors look ‘false’. Also the color scientist at PENTAX did a phenomenal job at creating gritty yet juicy colors.
  2. Obviously shooting digital is far more convenient than shooting film.

Biggest downside of 645Z is the size and weight. But if you want the apex of beautiful color in digital photography, 645Z is the way to go.

Studying the greats

Richard Avedon photos:

Been looking at Josef Koudelka, HCB, and Avedon, and here are some thoughts:

  1. I am very grateful that Avedon shot his portraits (American West) photos in large-format monochrome. The monochrome portraits have insane longevity; they still look SUPERIOR to modern digital photos. Also the monochrome looks 100x more beautiful than color. Avedon has done color very well, but monochrome certainly has a more classical and timeless feel.
  2. Josef Koudelka’s photo are beautiful because of the grit in his photos. The extreme high contrast and grittiness of his black and white film (pushed) in his Gypsies and Exiles project makes his photos look more beautiful.
  3. With Henri Cartier-Bresson, most of his black and white film photos don’t have great ‘image quality’ (many photos lack contrast, are a bit blurry, and don’t have much dynamic range), yet they are still beautiful. Why? HCB was the master of composition. The aesthetics of black and white film will always look beautiful. Good aesthetics of black and white film + great compositions = great photographs.

Basic ideas:

Providence, 2019. RICOH GR III, 28mm, high contrast JPEG preset.
Providence, 2019. RICOH GR III, 28mm, high contrast JPEG preset.
  1. The aesthetics of your photographs matter. For digital photography, I encourage you to shoot JPEG with some film-simulation you find beautiful. For example RICOH GR III and high-contrast black and white preset looks beautiful. Ricoh GR II and positive film JPEG color preset looks beautiful.
  2. To make really great photos, you need beautiful aesthetics AND great composition.
  3. With aesthetics, you don’t need “the best” aesthetics, just “good enough”. A standard is black and white film (it is certainly ‘beautiful enough’). If you want beautiful color photos on a digital camera, use a Pentax 645Z or a Fujifilm GFX 50R.
  4. Once you have a camera/aesthetics/processing style which is beautiful enough, just focus on making great photographs with great compositions!

Now that we have established good enough cameras and equipment for photography, let us focus on making (greater) compositions!

ERIC


AESTHETICS

Pinnochio nose. Downtown LA, 2015

COMPOSITION 101

ERIC KIM X ANNETTE KIM X BAUHAUS REMIX

Master composition for yourself:

Photography Composition Concepts

Street Photography Composition Tips

Tokyo, 2017
Tokyo, 2017

Photography Composition Tips

Color Theory

Color wheel theory: Dynamic tension between opposing colors.
Color wheel theory: Dynamic tension between opposing colors. Image from CREATIVE EVERY DAY

Learn From the Masters of Composition

Sergio Larrain Compositions
Sergio Larrain Compositions

Dynamic Photography Composition 101

Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION
Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION

Painting Compositions

Vermeer

Dynamic Photography Composition Tips

Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

Composition Theory

Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM
Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM

Take your composition to the next level:


Street Photography Composition 101

DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM
DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM

For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”

Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:

Composition Theory

Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Woman and door. Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

Learn compositional theory:


Compositional lessons from the masters of art


Composition lectures


Composition pictures/grids

Eric Kim photography Bauhaus Piet Mondrian

Golden Diagonal Composition

golden diagonal composition
Golden Diagonal Composition / Kyoto Station, 2018
ERIC KIM workshops red hand

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