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Author Topic: What makes a photo look professional?  (Read 10903 times)

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« on: November 15, 2011, 06:00 »
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I've been thinking about this lately. Images from some photographers look very professional, no matter what the subject is and images from other photographers, like myself, look just ok, again no matter what the subject is. I've been reading this blog http://dailystockshot.blogspot.com/ and, to me, most of this images look great!

So what is it? What make one look at an image and immediately think it was taken by a top pro photographer?

Is it
- perfect composition
- attention to detail
- low depth of field
- Color processing that made them stand apart (low saturation/high color contrast)
- ... what else?

I know that all of those factors matter a lot but if you chose one, what would it be?


« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2011, 06:22 »
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It would be composition and the one you don't mention .... lighting.

« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 06:26 »
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- low depth of field

No. A pro photographer's photo has the depth-of-field most suitable for the subject. Both extremities look "professional": unlimited sharpness by using camera lens movements or extremely short depth of field by using large aperture and bigger-than-35mm sensor/film.
f/5.6 looks amateurish :D

- Color processing that made them stand apart (low saturation/high color contrast)

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, but good photos have good color. Especially when the color is critical, for example food photography.

Here are some additions:

-Great lighting. What is great lighting depends on the subject, but I know it when I see it :)
-Production value: good looking people, good locations, good props, good styling...
-Unique ideas, "thinking outside the box"
-Huge objects (for example cars or horses) shot in studio

I don't think the photos in your link are special in any way. Good solid stock work, but nothing extremely special.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 06:32 by Perry »

michealo

« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 06:46 »
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I've been thinking about this lately. Images from some photographers look very professional, no matter what the subject is and images from other photographers, like myself, look just ok, again no matter what the subject is. I've been reading this blog http://dailystockshot.blogspot.com/ and, to me, most of this images look great!

So what is it? What make one look at an image and immediately think it was taken by a top pro photographer?

Is it
- perfect composition
- attention to detail
- low depth of field
- Color processing that made them stand apart (low saturation/high color contrast)
- ... what else?

I know that all of those factors matter a lot but if you chose one, what would it be?


Proper white balance

« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 07:39 »
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Often it is simply the angle the image is taken from and the lens used to create a visual 'effect' that you wouldn't see with your own eyes. That's what makes the image visually interesting.

To put it another way, the most boring image you can take (of almost any subject) is to stand with the camera at eye level using a 50-70mm lens (roughly the same view as the human eye) with the subject dead centre. That's a 'snapshot'. Alternatively stick on a WA lens, then get down on the floor or gain some height (stand on a chair for example) and compose using the 'rule of thirds'. The image will almost invariably have far more visual appeal.

Another option is to isolate the subject against a blurred background with a telephoto. Again it is something you couldn't see with your own eyes and so is more 'interesting'.

« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 08:59 »
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- Color processing that made them stand apart (low saturation/high color contrast)

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, but good photos have good color. Especially when the color is critical, for example food photography.

When I browse fashion magazines and photography magazines in general, I see a lot of low saturation images (when you decrease saturation and increase vibrance) so I guess that's kind of a trend nowadays. By "high color contrast" I mean when you use strong colors that are opposite from each other in the color wheel.


I don't think the photos in your link are special in any way. Good solid stock work, but nothing extremely special.

I know and that's what I meant to show. The images are of everyday stuff, with little or no set up and still they look very professional.

« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2011, 09:02 »
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Often it is simply the angle the image is taken from and the lens used to create a visual 'effect' that you wouldn't see with your own eyes. That's what makes the image visually interesting.

Nicely put!

rinderart

« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2011, 11:44 »
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It would be composition and the one you don't mention .... lighting.

Agree, Composition is the hardest subject to teach. Some are born with it and some struggle.

« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2011, 13:10 »
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I think the OP might go far. He's not so stupid he thinks he knows it all, the way most beginners do. And Gostwyck has given away a very big secret: if an image surprises then it very likely works.

RacePhoto

« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 14:24 »
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He said choose one:  Lighting.

« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2011, 14:40 »
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He said choose one:  Lighting.

But that one wasn't on offer.

RacePhoto

« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2011, 14:48 »
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He said choose one:  Lighting.

But that one wasn't on offer.

Sure it was "... what else?"  ;D

I'd say what one thing is very limiting, but if I had to pick the most important of many things, that's my choice. Anyone can argue that composition matters, but if the lighting is all smucked up, what difference is composition? A poor subject won't gain much interest, maybe a poor photo of something very interesting is better than a great photo or something dull and boring. See all the traps and twists?

Lighting. Makes photos look professional. Don't try to confuse me with the facts.  ;)

« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2011, 06:02 »
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Lighting. Makes photos look professional. Don't try to confuse me with the facts.  ;)

And that's a tough subject to learn, right? Anyone can put a softbox in one side and a reflector in the other or whatever but to make it like the pros do isn't easy. It involves the ability to pre visualize the image we want to produce and being able to use strobes to produce the effect we want. Light one side, light the other, light the background...

« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2011, 07:28 »
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Practice makes perfect, my mum used to say.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2011, 07:40 »
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I've got nothing to add since I agree with most answers here, that lighting and composition are paramount.
I particularly agree with gostwyck observations about "visual effect".

But I wish to thank the OP for a very interesting question: we are too often discussing about agencies, percentages, money... thank you for bring back focus on photography.

« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2011, 08:54 »
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I think the OP might go far. He's not so stupid he thinks he knows it all, the way most beginners do.

Thanks for that! I definitely don't think I know it all and I'm here, open minded, to learn from others. That's what this thread is all about.

But I wish to thank the OP for a very interesting question: we are too often discussing about agencies, percentages, money... thank you for bring back focus on photography.

You are welcome! ;)
« Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 08:58 by ruigsantos »

« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2011, 01:51 »
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Light is essential no matter its photography o anything else. But necessary part is composition. And for good composition one require good imagination. The same object can be viewed by all but is imagined in mind variously by different people. So better imagination inspires the photographer to take shots in a unique way with impressivel outcome.

lagereek

« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2011, 02:26 »
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Light is essential no matter its photography o anything else. But necessary part is composition. And for good composition one require good imagination. The same object can be viewed by all but is imagined in mind variously by different people. So better imagination inspires the photographer to take shots in a unique way with impressivel outcome.

Attilla!  is right here,  you have been milking us for weeks now. Its about time you stand on your own two feet, learn from your mistakes, same as the rest of us. Understood?

« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2011, 02:36 »
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Light is essential no matter its photography o anything else. But necessary part is composition. And for good composition one require good imagination. The same object can be viewed by all but is imagined in mind variously by different people. So better imagination inspires the photographer to take shots in a unique way with impressivel outcome.

Attilla!  is right here,  you have been milking us for weeks now. Its about time you stand on your own two feet, learn from your mistakes, same as the rest of us. Understood?
why ? can't one express his thoughts here in common forum ? its so unfriendly to hear so...

« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2011, 03:35 »
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A thing called talent.

« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2011, 10:16 »
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Attilla!  is right here,  you have been milking us for weeks now. Its about time you stand on your own two feet, learn from your mistakes, same as the rest of us. Understood?

You meant that for me? So you actually think that's it's possible to know it all? I stand on my own two feet already, thank you very much. Still I'm always open to new ideas and to learn new stuff. Understood?

« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2011, 10:24 »
0
Attilla!  is right here,  you have been milking us for weeks now. Its about time you stand on your own two feet, learn from your mistakes, same as the rest of us. Understood?

You meant that for me? So you actually think that's it's possible to know it all? I stand on my own two feet already, thank you very much. Still I'm always open to new ideas and to learn new stuff. Understood?

I think Lagereek might have been sampling his famous whisky collection and got a bit confused. I don't think his comment was directed at you personally and 'Attilla' hasn't even contributed to this thread!

RacePhoto

« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2011, 13:16 »
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Attilla!  is right here,  you have been milking us for weeks now. Its about time you stand on your own two feet, learn from your mistakes, same as the rest of us. Understood?

You meant that for me? So you actually think that's it's possible to know it all? I stand on my own two feet already, thank you very much. Still I'm always open to new ideas and to learn new stuff. Understood?

I think Lagereek might have been sampling his famous whisky collection and got a bit confused. I don't think his comment was directed at you personally and 'Attilla' hasn't even contributed to this thread!

OK That does it, I'm finished with Lagereek. He's sampling scotch, I'm not invited and he's not sharing? I'll just have to taunt him a little. I got two bottles of Ardbeg Alligator over Thanksgiving, one to drink one to save. And it's sold out in Great Britain, no more available. HA HA!


 

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