Essential Elements of a Good Photograph

A photograph is good if it is above average. A good photograph is one that gives pleasure to the person who looks at it – both the creator and the viewer.

Generally, there are two ways a photograph is judged.

  • The Subjective criteria.
  • The objective criteria.

Let’s look at both:

Subjective Criteria

Photography is an art, and as they say, art depends on the viewer. It is subjective by nature because it is an act of personal creation.

The subjective criteria of judging photographs depends on the tastes, preferences and experience of both the creator and the viewer.

While there aren’t many concrete things you can do to change the subjective judgement of your images, our advice is, just shoot! Keep shooting and observing the reaction of the consumers of your photography – and buy into their tastes and preferences over time.

Ultimately, it is the result of a particular vision: yours. When you frame, compose and make choices in photographic elements, you translate how you feel.

The subjective criteria are innumerable. They are unique for each author and for each viewer.

Objective criteria

If you want to know if a photograph is not good, you must judge it first objective criteria. That is, criteria that do not take into account personal judgment like the subjective one.

Remember that you are quite legitimate to judge photos whether they are yours or other photographers.

Judging a photo is better understanding you. You can better define your style and photographic approach.

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Here are the essential elements of objectively determining good photography:

The impact.

It’s the feeling when you look at the photo for the first time. A good image can evoke sadness, anger, pride, wonder or other intense emotion.

The technique.

Consider the quality of the photograph when it is presented to the viewers. People judge good photographs through their retouching, manipulation, sharpness, exposure, printing, editing, colour management.


Creativity is the true expression of a good photograph. It’s the wow factor and it shows the style and vibe of the photographer. It’s through creativity that a photograph passes its message, idea or thought.

The style.

Style defines the genre of the photographer. This is where we recognise the author’s paw and original characteristics at work. For example, if you observe well, every photographer has a unique way of playing with the lights.

The composition.

Simply put, composition is how the photo has been designed. How all the photographic elements were set up. A good composition must invite the audience to look in the directions chosen by the photographer and it can be pleasant or disturbing depending on what the author wanted to convey.

The colour balance.

Consider the harmony of the colour tones. They must reinforce the reading of the photo and its emotional side. The colour balance is not always harmonious and can be used to evoke different feelings or to make effects.


A good photograph uses light to highlight the shapes, the volumes in the photo. Whether natural or artificial, light must improve the reading of the photo message.

The elements present in the scene.

Everything present in a photograph frame must contribute to the message of the photo and a good photograph ensure that there are no disruptive elements in the scene, or all elements work together.

The story told.

Ultimately, the success of a photo is measured by its ability to evoke the imagination of its consumer. An audience must perceive a personal message or read its own story in a photo.

Great Photography with Picha Images

At Picha Images, we are photography experts, which means we produce great visual content for our clients (see some of our work here).

Through the Picha Community, we train upcoming photographers how to take good photographs for various uses… and everything they need to know to grow in their careers – for FREE. Join the Picha Community here.