What Makes a Good Photo Great?


Hello everyone! Are you enjoying this (black) Friday? Hope you do ūüėČ We’re celebrating it as well.¬†You’ll find out that every. single. photo. on Kaboompics is completely free of charge! Alright, enough joking. We have a special premiere for you. Introducing –¬†The Guest Friday! From now on, we are going to publish a guest post every Friday. If you are a blogger, writer, photographer, or just someone, who would like to be promoted here, on our service, write to [email protected] and let me know!

Without further ado, here’s our today’s guest – Charlie Gardiner from the World of Travel Photography¬†with a professional insight into taking photos.¬†What Makes a Good Photo Great? See for yourselves!

What is it that makes great photos stand out so much from just good or average ones?

  • Is it the camera? No, at least it plays a much smaller role than you‚Äôd think.
  • The lens maybe? Again, no. I‚Äôve seen plenty of terrible photos taken using some very expensive¬†gear.

So what is it?

We all know that there are some basic rules to follow if you want to take your photography up to the next level; proper exposure, nailing focus, maybe even using the rule of thirds… but I can tell you now that truly amazing images are a result of subtle techniques that you might not have even noticed the first time you look at a photo.

Ok, so should you go out and find yourself a photography textbook and start learning about all of these rules? Well yes and no.

Like with any form of art, any sport or any trade you need to master the basics first before you¬†can move on to more advanced things. What’s great about photography is that once you have¬†learned the basics, you get to throw the photography 101 textbook right out of the window.

Capturing images is an art form, a very personal art form. One in which you can never be wrong because it’s YOUR interpretation, and how could the way you see something that is in front of you ever be wrong? It’s your opinion, your perspective.

So let’s take things back a step and talk about the things you need to understand about where the DNA of great photography comes from.

Leading Lines

Using leading lines is one of the best ways to add a sense of depth to a photo and to draw the viewer into the image.

A leading line can be anything that forms a line, or path for the eye to follow. Normally from the foreground of an image into the distance or towards the main subject. In the photo below you can see the road helps to draw your line of sight into the photo and off into the forest.

The best thing about leading lines is that they help to make a person feel something. In this case I can just imagine standing on the road, right behind the camera and walking off into the trees.

The Rule of Thirds

One of the first things you’ll hear about when it comes to taking photos is using this rule. It’s pretty simple, imagine a grid drawn on top of the frame with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines like in the diagram below.

The idea is to place elements of the photo where the lines intersect or things like horizons on one of the lines themselves


An anchor is something, usually placed on either the bottom right third or the bottom left third of the frame, that acts as an anchor point for the viewer. Being in the foreground it’s normally the first thing your eye will fall upon when looking at an image. An anchor can be anything from a rock to a person sitting with their back to the camera looking out at a beautiful view.

Like leading lines, it also helps to add depth to an image by setting a reference point
Using myself as an anchor. You’ll notice this one quite a lot on Instagram now I’ve pointed it out, it’s pretty popular at the moment


Probably one of my favorite photography techniques. It completely goes against the rule of thirds that you’ve heard me and so many other photographers talk about but used in the right way it can create a very striking image.

There’s something about finding symmetry in otherwise everyday scenes that makes such¬†satisfying photos to look at. It shows that a photographer isn’t just looking at the obvious but is¬†diving deeper into a scene and really visualizing all of the angles.

I just love the way that line cuts through the middle of the photo from top to bottom like a razor

Again, photography is a subjective art so it might not provoke the same response in everyone but it’s a great example of how the traditional rules can sometimes be totally broken and the resulting image goes from being a good photo to a great one.

Well Balanced Color Palette

The final tip I’m going to talk about is achieving a well-balanced color palette. There are plenty of charts out there that show you which colors work well together and being about to match complimenting colors in a photo will set it apart from the rest.

Achieving this is obviously easier in some situations over others, for example in a studio where you have control over your environment and can take time and care to arrange a scene.

The image above is full of lovely muted earthy tones that all complement each other greatly. Care¬†has gone into making colors match and making sure that the colors that don’t match do¬†complement each other and fit into the overall earth color palette of this photo

Final Thoughts

Like I said at the beginning, these are just rules and rules are there to be broken. However, understanding the basics of photography is going to help you progress to levels you might not have thought possible.

Learn these tips, put them into practice, see what works and what doesn’t then get creative and¬†experiment. Take elements from one and mix it with another, or just follow your heart. Either way¬†making sure you master these basic things I‚Äôve talked about will give you a solid foundation from¬†which to build.

Thanks for reading!

This post was written by Charlie Gardiner –¬†Charlie is a travel photographer born in the UK but currently based in Madrid, Spain. For the last few years, he has traveled the world photographing what he sees along the way. He started his site World of Travel Photography as a way of sharing his work and since then it has grown to include contributions from other photographers from all over the world. It covers all aspects of travel and photography from where the best destinations are to how you can start your own journey to becoming a full-time travel photographer.





Kaboompics’ translator, editor, content creator, idea generator, marketing alligator. Peculiar are his thinking patterns, but he is a solid writer once he gets to it. “It’s good to finish your Bio with a meaningful quote."