What makes a ‘great’ photo? The question keeps professionals and weekend warriors alike busy arguing, practicing and learning. In this video, one photography veteran shares his insights into that question, born of decades immersed in the world of photography.
The video is, first and foremost, a tribute created by photographer Jesse James Allen for and about his mentor Charlie Howse.
"This is a tribute my mentor, who in 2007 showed me how to create an image before the shutter was ever pressed," writes Allen in the video’s description. "His time and teachings greatly influenced my career."
But throughout the video the same theme comes up over and over again: what makes a ‘great’ photograph?
Howse touches on several different aspects of ‘great’ photography. He starts with the personal impact of an image—a photograph that’s indelibly tied to what you were feeling and thinking at the moment you pressed the shutter—before moving on to a common debate topic: technology vs art.
"For far too long, I thought that in order to have a great image, it has to be technically a great image," says Howse. "And I’m coming to realize that the technical aspect of an image is less important than the artistic or the compositional aspect of an image, or the interestingness of the subject matter."
More important by far than the best gear, says Howse, is knowing how to ‘make an image’ rather than simply ‘take a picture.’ How to pose. How to compose. How to connect.
What we’ve written above just barely scratches the surface of the full video. Howse goes on to talk about the difference between a snapshot and a portrait, about why he chooses to shoot large format, and about the next generation of photographers and what they should focus on.
Maybe it’s too much to hope that a five minute video can shape the way you look at the world and capture a photograph. Then again… what do you have to lose? Click play up top and let us know what you think of Howse’s advice in the comments.