How to Determine if a Photo is Good or Bad?

Nowadays, anyone can pick up a camera and claim they’re a “professional photographer”. Photography is truly subjective, but let’s discuss the top 3 ways you can determine if a photo is actually good or bad and hopefully prevent you from wasting money on your next purchase.

Is the Image in Focus?

It’s kind of a no-brainer, right? However, I have actually seen “professional” photographers deliver blurry photos to their clients! And of course those clients weren’t happy. Looks like they didn’t do their research.

  • When shopping for a photographer, you should check to see if their photos are sharp and in focus.

  • Can you clearly see the object/person(s) in the image?

  • Or does it hurt your eyes because subject is blurred?

Click on the images to get a closer look. The image on the left may appear to be in focus when viewing on a small screen. However, if you zoom in or try to print the image on the left - you will discover it is actually slightly out of focus. The image on the right is an example of proper sharpness of focus on the eyes of the model.

Image is slightly blurry and is out of focus.

Focus is on the eyes and is sharp, no blurriness.

Is the Subject properly Lit?

Lighting is probably one of the most important elements when creating a photograph. An experienced professional will know how to properly set their color balance and exposure in any kind of lighting scenario. Providing the viewer with details that are rich in color and properly exposed to be seen clearly.

Ask yourself when viewing the photographers portfolio;

  • Is the image bright enough to view?

  • Does the image look flat? crisp? or vibrant and full of life?

  • Does the image present natural skin tones or does everyone look orange ?

This is a terrible image. It’s very dark, no separation from background, image is very flat and amateurish. Even if the photographer were to brighten the photo, still bad.

This is a great image. It’s properly exposed, vibrant in color, separation from background which directs attention to the subjects.

Is the Photographer using good composition?

Have you ever viewed an image and just instantly liked it, no idea why? 9 out of 10 times it was because the photographer applied one of, if not all of these elements!

Composition is when the artist includes:

  • A focus point

  • Leading lines

  • Applies the rules of thirds

  • Adds balance to the photograph.

This isn’t a terrible shot, but it could be much better. Photographer should crop out the guy on the left, because right now he’s competing for my attention. The attention should be on the 2 people in the middle.

This is a pretty good shot. Your eye enters the canvas from the left side, travels to the middle. The photo is pleasant, warming and interesting all at the same time. The viewer’s gaze is kept on the 2 ladies in focus.

BONUS

Is the Photo Interesting or Boring?

When shopping for a photographer (or just browsing online), ask yourself, “Is this photo interesting or boring to me?” Anyone can snap a photo these days as I mentioned in our opening statement. But not everyone can create an interesting photo, a photo that pulls you in and tells a story.

We are conditioned to see a certain type of photo from conferences. I love these more creative shots. It depicts the audience engaging and really enjoying the information being presented. It’s a creative way to tell a story visually and not everyone can do that effectively.

We are conditioned to see a certain type of photo from conferences. I love these more creative shots. It depicts the audience engaging and really enjoying the information being presented. It’s a creative way to tell a story visually and not everyone can do that effectively.

I don’t mean a photo from an event with tons of people sitting and listening to a speaker. I am referring to the art of capturing real emotions, candid moments, an action frozen in a blink of an eye with precision. Maybe that speaker was pointing at the audience and had a smirk on their face for half a second. Capturing that split moment could be the difference between a good and a great photo.

I was told after I captured this photo that this was a huge accomplishment in photography history. Apparently, it is very rare to capture a smile (a great one too) from the lady in the middle. In public she normally doesn’t let her guard down. This is still one of my all time favorite images because of the story and the genuine laughter captured.

I was told after I captured this photo that this was a huge accomplishment in photography history. Apparently, it is very rare to capture a smile (a great one too) from the lady in the middle. In public she normally doesn’t let her guard down. This is still one of my all time favorite images because of the story and the genuine laughter captured.

We’re done, do you feel more confident looking at photos?

I realize not everyone has an education in photography and it’s sometimes hard to decide who is actually best qualified as a photographer for your job. (tip: never hire based on price! 8 out 10 times you will be disappointed)

If price is a factor, then ask yourself “How important will the use of these photographs be?” If the use is not very important, then it doesn’t really matter who shoots the assignment or if you find the cheapest photographer (you can afford the loss if they screw up or if the images come out bad).

I took from my iphone which represents all of the non professional photographers out there. This is normally the kind of photos you would see after an event if a professional was not hired. Still usable to share on social media, but it’s hurting your Brand.

I used my professional camera along with my creative talent, editing skills and education to create this photo. Anyone can snap a photo like the image on the left, but not everyone can create an image rich in detailed, vibrant in color and sharp in focus. This image would help your Brand.

However, if you need to use the photos for something important like brand recognition, then the investment of that photographer should be secondary when compared to the real value they would be providing you overall.

Meaning, the risk is far too great for you to hire the cheapest photographer, when you need quality, reliability and images that will represent your business in the best possible light.