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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- To make really great photos, you need beautiful aesthetics AND great composition.
- 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.
- 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!
- Imperfect Photos are More Beautiful
- Do you photograph the world better, the same, or worse than reality? #aesthetics
- Aesthetics are Ethics
- Beauty over Truth #philosophy #aesthetics
- Philosophy of Aesthetics and Beauty in Photography
- Aesthetics in Photography
- Aesthetics Strengthen, Simplify, and Focus
- Not better image quality; more beautiful aesthetics!
- Why Aesthetics?
Master composition for yourself:
Photography Composition Concepts
- Re-Interpret your Photos
- Visual Gist
- Dynamic Composition
- 10 Tips How to Work Your Compositions in Photography
- Composition for the Sake of Composition
- The Gaussian Blur Test
- How to Teach Yourself Photography Composition
- Composition vs Aesthetics in Photography
- 10 Simple Composition Tips to Make Better Photos
- How to Compose a Photograph
- Edge Detection Photography Composition
- Vector (Arrow) Photography Composition
- Clear and Obscure (Chiaroscuro) Photography Composition
Street Photography Composition Tips
- 7 Street Photography Composition Tips The Superman Low Angle Perspective Photography Composition Effect
- High Angle Perspective Street Photography Composition Technique
- How to Shoot Low Angle Perspective Street Photography Composition Technique
Photography Composition Tips
- 5 Photography Composition Ideas
- How to Photograph Motion
- Photography Composition: Which Direction is Your Subject Looking?
- Blocking Technique in Photography
- How to Shoot a Triangle Photography Composition
- How to shoot a golden triangle composition in street photography
- 8 Simple Curve Composition Tips
- 5 Simple Henri Cartier-Bresson Composition Tips
- Foot Zoom
- Photography Composition: Light and Dark
- Street Photography Composition Lesson #16: Scale
- Shape, Arrangement, Position (S.A.P.) and Contour, Inter-Contact, Position (C.I.A.) in Photography
- 10 Tips How to Fill the Frame in Photography
- Look Up! 16 Photography Composition Perspective Tips
- 5 Simple Street Photography Composition Tips
- Depth Perception
- Golden Angle Composition in Street Photography
- Photographer as an “Arranging Artist”
- Dynamic Off-Center Street Photography Compositions
- 5 Essential Composition Tips in Photography
- Red and Green Composition Color Theory For Photographers
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Color Photography
- Opponent Process Color Theory For Photographers
- Color Theory For Photographers
- Color Manual
- How to Shoot Color Street Photography
Learn From the Masters of Composition
- 10 Lessons Matisse Can Teach You About Art and Life
- Henri Cartier-Bresson Composition
- 10 Timeless Lessons Edward Weston Can Teach You About Photography
- 10 Inspirational Sergio Larrain Compositions
- 5 Henri Cartier-Bresson Photography Composition Lessons
Dynamic Photography Composition 101
- Introduction to Dynamic Photography Composition
- How to Visually Analyze Your Photography Compositions
- Dynamic Tension: Opponent Based Theory For Photography
- Opponent Process Color Theory For Photographers
- Dynamic Photography Composition 101: Figure to Ground
Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- 7 Simple Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make Aggressive Photography Compositions
- 10 Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make More Dynamic Picture Compositions
- Unorthodox Photography Composition Techniques
- Deconstructed: Saigon Eric Kim Photos
Take your composition to the next level:
- Gestalt Theory
- Center Eye
- Dutch Angle
- Deep Depth
- Leading Lines
- Figure to Ground
- Fibonacci Spiral
- Composition by Eric Kim
Street Photography Composition 101
For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”
Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:
- Composition Lesson #1: Triangles
- Composition Lesson #2: Figure-to-ground
- Composition Lesson #3: Diagonals
- Composition Lesson #4: Leading Lines
- Composition Lesson #5: Depth
- Composition Lesson #6: Framing
- Composition Lesson #7: Perspective
- Composition Lesson #8: Curves
- Composition Lesson #9: Self-Portraits
- Composition Lesson #10: Urban Landscapes
- Composition Lesson #11: “Spot the not”
- Composition Lesson #12: Color Theory
- Composition Lesson #13: Multiple-Subjects
- Composition Lesson #14: Square Format
Learn compositional theory:
- Why is Composition Important?
- Don’t Think About Composition When You’re Shooting Street Photography
- How to Use Negative Space
- Street Photography Composition 101
- The Theory of Composition in Street Photography: 7 Lessons from Henri Cartier-Bresson