One of the common issues that amateur or newbie photographers often have is deciding which photos to include in their portfolio or website. The great thing about photography is that it is subjective, and every person will have different ways of assessing if they like a photo or not, doing an image critique.
You should always aim to photograph what you enjoy with your own unique style and vision. But sometimes, especially if you are looking to earn money from your images, you will need to consider other people’s tastes and needs. Here is a quick guide on how to know if your photo is good or not.
1. Is it Technically Good?
Different photographers have different workflows, but often for most, it starts with actually checking if a photo is technically good because let’s be honest, a blurred or poorly focused photo isn’t going to make it into your portfolio.
So a good first step when evaluating a particular photo is checking that it is sharp with good tonal range, good contrast between shadows and highlights and focused correctly on the right part of the scene.
Of course, there might be occasions when a photo might be slightly off in terms of focus, for example, but it still works and if you want to showcase it in your portfolio that’s fine. But the majority of the time, a blurred photo can be discounted.
2. Is it Missing Something?
Sometimes you can look at one of your photos and you can tell that it is missing something.
It might be a quiet cobbled street that just looks empty without a person in the shot. Or it might be a landscape image that’s missing a point of interest. These are the type of photos that you look at and think, “I wish I had done this” or “if only there was something or someone in that spot”.
If you think that about one of your images, then it’s probably missing that certain something that would make it a great photo.
3. The Stop Test
One of my favourite tests when I edit a collection of my photos is what I call the “stop test”. As you flick through one of your galleries of photos – whether that’s on your smartphone, your computer, or even your camera, there are usually some photos that make you stop.
Sometimes it might just be a split second longer than usual, but you did still pause briefly from continuing to flick through the set to look at that one photo.
This is usually a good sign that there is clearly something about that particular shot that grabs your attention. If it can grab your attention it might grab the attention of others as well.
4. Are You Being Sentimental?
One thing that is really easy to do, as a photographer, is to get sentimental about a photo. Regardless of how detached you want to make yourself when editing your photos, there will still be that part of you that remembers what it took to capture the shot.
5. Is it Different than what Already Exists?
In this era of digital photography, often the biggest challenge is capturing unique photos. But that is also a good test of whether you should include a photo in your portfolio or not.
It could be that the photo you have taken is perfectly fine, but if you have managed to capture something unique that doesn’t already exist, then it might be a great photo. The key is to search what already exists and see if your image is better or different than others.