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I like how you emphasize the subjectivity of statements of taste or preference!
For my part, I have to admit, to my embarrassment, that I had first largely misunderstood your "photographic quality" and that I am probably quite ignorant of this criterion. For me, the composition and content of a photograph is of overriding importance and I am much more flexible with photographic quality than with compositional quality. I really cannot think of a "photographic quality" criterion that would be a no-go.


Maybe this is the moment to reverse Ansel's quote, and I paraphrase, "there is nothing worse than a fuzzy picture of a sharp concept".

Cemal Ekin

This seems to be a meta quality question, or "the qualities of good quality photographs". It is by definition, I believe, is slippery and elusive. It is like asking "what makes good quality shoes?" Clearly, the first round of issues to consider will be "for what, is it gender or age specific, in what price range, etc." You can project this line of thinking to any product category, including photographs. Thinking only about the qualities of a print is too restrictive in my opinion.

I have successfully managed to avoid answering the question! Now, I will see how it progresses.


Thanks for the interesting tips, one of my goals this year is to improve the quality of my photos - so I really appreciate the many ideas on quality.

Phil Harbord

Something you might want to look at if you've not already done so is Martin Bogren's book Tractor Boys. Most of the images in his book are blurred, grainy and somewhat out of focus but it's some of the most emotive photography that I've seen recently. I absolutely love it and can't imagine taking images like it myself as much as I'd love to.

So for me, I think emotion, story and atmosphere are the most important attributes in a photograph.

Brooks Jensen

I agree completely, but in this post I was trying to focus everyone's attention on the strictly technological attributes of an image as regards how we think of photographic quality, not on content or emotive aspects. They can be thought of separately. I'll have more to say about this in a post next week focusing on the aesthetic and emotive ways we think about a photograph.

Phil Harbord

Sure, but I think that's an almost impossible task, to separate out the two. I'd agree with you that clarity, subtle tonality, detail and lack of digital artifacts are the technological attributes that I'd associate with quality. But Martin Bogren's photos are lacking in most if not all of those characteristics and yet I wouldn't say they lack quality because of that.

Ultimately it's about the image and different images can tolerate or even benefit from a lack of traditional measures of quality.

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