We live in a time where photographs and images are more prevalent than at any other time in history. With the introduction of digital cameras into the market, photography has become accessible to the masses. People have many different and varied reasons for wanting or needing photography. Sometimes people just want to document a moment in their lives to share with others, and for those moments, a simple iPhone photo will do just fine. Then again, there are other, more significant times, such as documenting a wedding, when the quality of the imagery really matters. Given today’s digital technology almost anyone can take a picture, but when the moment really matters, wouldn’t you prefer to have it documented by a professional? Is there really a difference? Well, yes actually. Unfortunately, just having a nice camera does not necessarily guarantee great results. A lot more goes into making a photo than just pressing the button. Knowing about lighting and posing can make a world of difference, as illustrated below.
Along these same lines, a study was conducted in January of this year at the University of Minnesota and funded by the National Press Photographers Association to see if people could tell the difference between professional and amateur photography. Using eyetracking technology, coupled with a rating system, participants were shown 100 photographs taken by professional journalists, and 100 photographs taken by amateurs. The participants were, indeed, able to identify the professional photography 90% of the time, and indicated that the professional images were more memorable and were more likely to be shared. More about the study can be found here: https://nppa.org/node/69402
When it came to quality, participants articulated a poignant list of items that made a photograph worthy of publication. Some of them included:
- context, like a sense of place
- tells me a story vs. just capturing a scene
- subject matter that has some currency or relevance
- capturing the exact moment that’s crucial to the action
- emotion between people connecting
- bright, crisp, clear
- perfect framing, artfully composed — good lighting, well exposed
- vivid colors — I can see everything, really sharp — clarity of the picture, sharpness
These distinctions are something photojournalists and other professional photographers know and incorporate into their work to produce a quality product. So when quality is important, entrusting your photographic needs to an experienced professional is often your best course.