What’s the most important thing about a photograph? The answer to that question can be different for everyone. Maybe composition, technical aspects, lighting, sharpness, etc…? All of those elements play a part in the whole of the image, but they’re just parts, and sometimes not even that important.
Emotional Impact or Story
For me, what matters above all else in a photograph is the level of emotional impact the photo has, or the photo’s ability offer a sense of story. And I use that way of saying it, “offer a sense of story” rather than “tell a story” because I don’t think the image necessarily has to tell the whole story, but give the viewer something to work with, to let their imagination fill in the blanks, to create the story that they can imagine.
When I say emotional impact I’m just referring to the simple connection you hopefully can feel from a photograph. Maybe there’s even something about the image that really just draws you in, even if you can’t really explain why. Maybe it can make you feel happy, a sense of love or sadness, empathy, inspiration… but that’s a key element of a photograph, or really any art form for that matter. A photo can be lit perfectly, be razor sharp, composed “correctly,” etc… but if I can’t connect with it emotionally on some level, than I probably won’t be all that crazy about the photo.
Keeping It Simple
Having minimal elements in a photograph can be really strong in drawing the viewer in. Giving someone a single or very few elements to focus on in the image can make it easier for them to connect, not be distracted by too much clutter, noise; with just a hint of other elements, maybe to provide interest or a little context for the scene.
I really love simple images like this.