B&H’s Explora has an interesting article about the 30 questions you could ask before taking a photograph. When first reading the title of this piece, one could wonder if that’s just too much. But, as you start reading, you may realize that some of these questions, if not all, really do get asked and answered during the photographic process at some point. Possibly, the more experienced photographers go through such a mental checklist each time. Beginners can learn a lot about their images by asking themselves these questions even well after the photograph was made.
If you’re ever asked to comment on a photograph, participate in a critique, or if you are judging a photo competition, these are good questions to ponder.
Here’s a summary, but you should really read the Explora article for greater insight.
- What is my subject?
- How do I best highlight the subject?
- Where is the subject in the frame?
- Am I close enough to my subject to emphasize it?
- Am I far enough from my subject to allow the viewer to have a sense of time and place of the photograph?
- Is there something in front of or behind the subject that distracts me?
- Is there something else in the frame taking my attention away from the subject?
- Is there something outside of the frame that I could incorporate to enhance the image?
- Where is the light coming from?
- How does my eye move through the scene?
- Am I standing in the best place to make this photograph?
- Should I be standing straight up and shooting this photograph from eye level, or is there a better perspective?
- Is it the best time of day to make this photograph?
- Is this the best moment to make this photograph?
- Is this the best weather to make this photograph at this particular place?
- Are my lines straight or intentionally angled?
- Is the camera lens distorting lines or perspective in a way I don’t want them to distort?
- Are my camera’s settings correct for this image?
- Is the camera capable of capturing the dynamic range of the scene?
- Should my camera be stabilized?
- What is my concept?
- What am I trying to say?
- If this photograph is part of a series, does it fit with the style and emotion of the rest of the series?
- Who is the photograph for?
- If the goal of the image is to make a statement, will this image hit that mark?
- Will this image create negativity and criticism or positivity and praise?
- Will this photograph capture the essential feeling of the moment?
- Has this photograph been taken before?
- Am I forcing the photograph?
- Would I be better served to simply observe the moment or scene before me and not worry about making a photograph?
The answers should culminate into the real question: Why am I making this photo?