Every good photograph has three main elements in common. Most would assume it has something to do with the equipment being used, such as the right camera, lens, or tripod. However, the three variables that matter the most in photography are light, composition, and subject. Creating stunning photographs requires a lot of skill and patience, which is why these three elements help in narrowing down the more important components of a good photograph.
Light is a major factor when it comes to photography; without it, there would be no chance of taking pictures of any kind. The quality of light from one photograph to the next varies according to the requirements of the photographer. At its very core, light serves as a direct relation to whatever emotion the photographer wants to portray through their image. The very feel of a photograph will be vastly different depending on the lighting conditions, which include harsh light, warm light, gentle light, cool light, and every other hue of light in between. Although other elements help in conveying emotions in a photograph, light is considered one of the most impactful of them all.
When a photographer takes a photo, it is because something caught their eye that was worth capturing. It can be something as insignificant as a speck of sand on the beach or as grand as a historical monument such as the Great Pyramids of Egypt. That something is called a subject. If someone is describing their photograph to someone, the first bit of information they relate is about the subject, which allows the listener to create their own image in their mind, making it easy for them to understand the photographer’s vision.
(The element of a ‘subject’ can also be conflated with a ‘moment’ depending on what type of photography one practices in. The moment that the photograph is taken is extremely important and make the difference between an average image and one that will mean a great deal, sparking emotion and intrigue within the viewer, and that will last a lifetime. It can be setup or opportunistically and fleetingly captured, but this is truly what makes a photographer’s ‘eye’ when honing this craft for many years.(
Considered the most crucial element of any photograph, composition is the arrangement of the items in a photograph. It starts with the positioning of the camera, and the relationship between various other elements, such as light and the subject of the image. A good composition is one where the story is told effectively with no hint of distraction or confusion, allowing the onlooker to quickly be able to discern the meaning and emotion behind the photograph.
If a photographer manages to master these three variables, they will have managed to master the most important area of photography. Figuring out how to convey the emotional message behind any photograph can be tricky – it takes all three of these elements combined to tell the story and explain the vision the photographer had when taking a photograph. In simple terms, light helps create a strong sense of mood, while the subject allows the viewer something to focus on, and composition brings everything together by building a structure that compliments the story the photograph is telling. For any aspiring or successful photographer, mastering these elements is fundamental to producing an excellent photograph.