Picture Perfect!

People say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s true! A good photo can take anything from a blog post to an advertising campaign to a whole new level! In a platform where visuals are so important (like digital media) it’s theses images and good photos that help to tell a story and really get the message across to the readers. So what is a good photo you may ask? Well, look no further as a I break down what it takes to produce a photo that will not only capture your subject, but also your audience!




Taking a picture is easy right? You just find a subject, grab your camera, and point… WRONG! You wouldn’t just come up with a major advertising campaign over night, so your photos that you use for digital media purposes shouldn’t be completely made up on the spot either. You shouldn’t just go out and a take a photo without thinking first about what you want that photo to say, represent, or bring to whatever you are doing. It needs to be thought out and planned. That’s why it is important to start with brainstorming.

Thinking about the content and the context of your photo are some of the most important parts!  The article “Viewers Make Meaning” mentions this connection that an audience can have to an image throughout the piece and even sets up rules as to how a viewer will understand a photo saying,”The production of meaning involves at least three elements besides the image itself and its producer: (1) the codes and conventions that structure the image and that cannot be separate from the content of the image: (2) The viewers and how they interpret or experience the image; (3)  the context in which an image is exhibited and viewed” (Struken and Cartwright, 49).

Elements of a Good Photo:

Now that we have thought about our idea for a photo, it’s time to take the picture right? Nope. We still have many elements that can help enhance our photo to take into account before we can start snapping our pictures! The article “Reading Images: The Meaning of Composition” highlights some of the specifics and explains why they are important as well as how they can take your photos to the next level.

  • Composition- Composition refers to the layout of the elements in your photo. This can include things like your subject, your background, and anything else that your photo is going to encompass.
  • Framing- Framing is simple how the edges of your photos work. You want the framing of your picture to work together with your composition to direct attention towards or away from certain elements in your photo such as your subject.
  • Salience- This is also important when it comes down to what are the main elements in a photo that you want to highlight. Certain elements should be more prominent than others depending on their informational value as well as how valuable they are to the overall message of the image.
  • The Rule of Thirds- This relates to both your framing and your composition. If you were to divide your frame into thirds, this rule states that ideally the subject of your image would take up exactly 1/3 of the photo.
  • Lighting & Color- An important element that is often an afterthought, but can really take your image from looking amateur to professional. It should work together with the other elements to emphasize things correctly and in the most visually appealing way possible.
  • Clarity- Last but not least you want to make sure that your photo is clear. Not blurry, hard to see or understand. The viewer needs to be able to tell what they are looking at so they can have a reaction.

After you have thought about all of these elements and gotten your picture set up with your lighting just right, you can finally let the shutter capture your moment!


Atlantis by Stephanie Turner-Jones

The Power of the Visual:

Pictures give us the opportunity to more easily relate to a message. They can grab our attention and help us to make sense of the world around us. The beautiful thing about photography is it is a simple way to capture the truth of a situation while also allowing the viewer to take out of it whatever meaning they want to. Visuals like photography allow for objectivity and subjectivity at the same time making them a extremely powerful. The article “Images, Power, and Politics” says, “Images are elements of contemporary advertising and consumer culture through which assumption about beauty, desire, glamour, and social value are both constructed and lived” (Sturken and Cartwright,23).

As I said when I began this post, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I would like to argue however, that if you follow these guidelines… It could be so much more than that.


Featured Image by: Tiara Rae Photography found on Flickr.

Brainstorm by Tais Massaro found on Flickr.


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