What is it that really makes a photo work?
When you hang around the photographer types, you will hear comments of “golden ratio” and the “rule of thirds,” but what does this really mean. At the bottom of this post, I am adding a link to a blog article from Fotolia that simplifies it nicely.
Many think that the quality of your equipment is the largest part of it, but yet; if you surf sites like tumbler, pinterest, diviantart and more, you will see that many get absolutely fantastic images with their mobile phones and so forth. So yes, having a nice camera with good lenses goes a very long way I am sure; yet, it should never be a requirement (or excuse). Looking at sites like viewbug, there is a clear indicator that composition and contrast plays an enormous part in a good picture. The rule of thirds are used in composition (even cropping if need be) to make the photo the best it can be. Natural talent only goes so far, and then a person need to understand that light, colour, contrast and composition needs to be understood. If you understand this, and you aren’t able to get the placement of your subject right when you take the photo; you can use these elements to draw the viewers eye in where you want it with the use of colour, contrast and clarity.
Your photo needs to tell a story without words. What does the photo tell you? Which emotions is it suppose to play on when viewed? Those are the elements that should be considered from the moment you look through the viewfinder to frame the image, to the point where you are done with the editing. When it has an element of peace or calm, it cannot be too dark. It requires light and soft colour (or warm colour for that homely sensation). If it is hard and brute, strong contrast and darker colours will carry that over. If the original image does not convey that, you have to find it in post-processing.
You can take a very good photo with your phone, if you take these elements into consideration and/or you have a good eye (RAW talent). Thing is, most images fail simply because of lighting; and that can be handled with bouncing a bit of light with just about anything reflective. As a matter of fact, that is where the expensive element in photography gear comes in; allowing good light to hit the image sensor of your camera. Expensive lenses and good lighting equipment is all about that; and photographers are willing to pay the price to get the best possible image from every aspect and consideration. Give a little attention to composition when you take the the photo by placing your main subject at one of the strong points (as shown in the Fotolia blog article) and you are bound to get a reaction from viewers. It is a very natural thing.
Information brings power, so read, watch and learn as much as you can.
Read the Fotolia Blog Article “The Golden Ratio”
About.com “Rule of thirds in Photography”
About.com “How to use the Rule of thirds in Photography” (Video)
About.com “Photography Composition Overview” (Video)
Digital Photo Secrets “Why does the Rule of thirds work“