Did you ever give thought to what makes something photogenic? How do we know what makes an image widely accepted as being attractive whereas a slight adjustment to the same image will lose that quality? The tenets of photography can be quite rigid sometimes, free-willed at others. Yet either prospective has the ability to produce satisfaction in the eyes of the beholder. Is there a "golden rule" to taking pictures?

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Is there a 'golden rule'? ....Good question Leon! And the answer is probably no.

The late; great jazz photographer William Claxton said that 'Photography is jazz for the eye'. And as with music; what pleases one person may disagree with another.

A trick many professionals use is to shoot a lot of frames, then edit down to select 'the one'.(With digital and no processing costs this is easier now than it was way back in the old days).

There are of course those that can see things that others' just don't notice;often described as having an eye for a photograph; just as a good musician can hear and deliver a good tune. Like most art forms; you can only teach (and learn) so much. Much of the creativity comes from a raw talent, and like with jazz; it's when you break the rules that things become interesting.

There are many 'rules' in photography: the law of thirds (framing the subject to fit a conventional format and filling the frame to balance. This works well in landscape mainly). The rules about technical matters (exposure, focus etc: F stops and Apertures) but if we followed these to the book - there'd be a lot of historical, beautiful images that just wouldn't have been shot!

If there has to be a golden rule: I'd say "Just shoot it!" (and ask questions later on editing). My personal style is to observe as a fly-on-the-wall; and many of my favourite jazz images are of the musician 'resting'. Having your finger on the triger and knowing when to press the shutter is my best tip.

Please look at the images on my page.

Noorie
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Well Done Noorie!.....Noorie's answer here has the sum of what is necessary to incorporate into a complete approach to learning and "mastering" the art and medium of photography.....like any Art form, photography involves the artistic "process"....the ongoing process is to be continually involved in the process...it is always ongoing and only ends when you do....period. With 45 years in the field, i'm learning everyday... and even when as Noorie suggests i spend a period of time just "looking" and not reflexively shooting.....my "eye" is taking in all that is important to my photographic desires with renewed effort and not merely snapping on "mindlessly".
The conscious effort of exercises like that are true of any art form, as i play Jazz too, in small groups, the exercise of "intentional" effort is of major importance...and the observation of all that is going on around you is directly related to the results you desire to create.....

Photography, too is a culmination of all your learning and experiences with "production" of imagery over the years....practice, practice, practice.....learn all that you can...with film...with digital....lenses...formats....find what you like and hone in on it.....critique yourself....have friends and fellow artist/photographers critique your works "in progress" in this ongoing process and most of all have FUN with it....

This is a great site to get feed-back from...and ask me anytime for feedback or to share what knowledge i have .... i gladly pay it forward ...as i was given much knowledge by my mentors over the years.....

Great work Noorie!...and good luck ( it takes a tiny bit of that now and then.... ) to all you intrrepid lens "people"

My very best to you all ...always b

PS....and thank you so much Leon/Sealey2k for creating this venue....well done man!

PPS I shot the above pic in 1974 at Preservation Hall New Orleans, Lieca M2 35mm f1.5 Canon Lens, 1/4 sec at f2 "High speed" Ektachrome (125 if i remember correctly...lol) ...shot 6 frames in very little light and hoped for the best....when look at this pic I can still hear "Sweet Emma's" riffs on the piano....
I'm hearing an underlying message, Noorie & Bruce. Giving many years of respect to your craft has brought insight and wisdom to this subject. Irregardless of the technological advances, the basic elements of photography remain. Develop an "eye" for your passion, practise-practise-practise, and be your own toughest critic (before someone else is).
The first steps of any journey are usually the most difficult, however, dedication to the goal can be balm for the pain. The "no turning back" factor. Once the choice is made between taking a "good" picture and being able to compose a photograph has solidified, the process begins. Your eye starts to develop when your able to distinguish the parts from the whole.
It's easy to see a tree, but the tree itself and it's relation to it's surroundings are two different things. The light (or lack thereof) descending upon the tree adds to the complexity of the image. So does the color and the tree's juxtaposition to other objects in view. And that's where taking a picture and composing a photograph comes to a fork in the road. The "good" picture is a realization of these factors and the perceverance to express said factors in the composed image. The rules can be broken in some cases, but first it's best to know there is a rule.
Chances are satisfacton will not be achieved in the first and probably not the second or third tries. It will not come until the photographer educates him/herself as to the processes necessary to exact the desired image, develops the ability to execute them and ascertains the capabilities of the equipment being used.
I concur with both of your responses and will take the liberty of pinning an addendum to the "golden rule" of taking pictures: To Thine Ownself Be True.
Right on Leon!....Keep shooting....keep culling the wheat from the chaff....force yourselfto not shoot at times when "auto pilot" is the only answer....seek positive and constructive critiques...we could have a section her for that....and some organized photo shoots or assignments too....andhave some fun with it...

Well done for getting this goin'....thank you...bc
In her book 'African Visions' Photographer Mirella Ricciardis' motto was:

"Capture the moments you never want to forget, before they are gone forever".

That to me pretty much summed up the whats and whys of photography. (Mirella lost a young daughter to Cancer - so her statement is particularly poignant).

When I was studying photography at college in my mid-twenties; my mother gave me a batch of old negatives for my darkroom printing practice sessions. My father had left the negatives behind and I'd not seen him since I was five; (he'd left us then died).

What emerged in the developing trays were images of he and I as a baby and young child; and those images gave me a sense of being with him (which I only vaguely remember) and recognition that I was loved. Those photographs make 'good pictures'. (Capturing moments before they are gone forever).
Sooooo beautiful Noorie....in the last 40 plus years, I've shot well over 10,000 images...processed all the BW meself, sent out the "chromes", and color negs...and still go back through stuph from years ago to find great pics i'd overlooked...missed..and to keep the precious times fresh in me old "addled" brain.....lol....Noorie...you are always loved by your true friends...and the "far away ones too....." always b
Focus, exposure and composition. Elements that cannot be corrected after the fact. Superior glass and confidence in your camera system and your creative intentions. Did you shoot what you saw?? Does the image relect what you see ??? Does the image recreate the emotion that inspired you to take the picture in the first place?? Get at me !!
Wow, I've read some great responses and learned some great tips as well. Being an amateur at photography or in my case "just taking pictures" I love taking pictures of musical moments. Capturing an artist while they're performing is awesome for me. Now that the holiday season is here I'll be taking some more photo's that reflect that holiday magic...........

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