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By: Hoan K. Trinh

Given the ridiculous amount of new releases of cameras these days, I would like to spend some time on the aesthetic of photography in this blog.  So what is it that make a photo good, bad, great, or as some people put it, “professional”?

Let’s talk about the title that I picked first, shall we?  “A Photo Without a Soul” is a Vietnamese love song by Hoai An.  The song revolved around the theme that a photo of a past lover no longer carry that lust or desire now that the person in the photo had gone on. I’m sure everyone can relate to that subject right?  So what does it mean when a photo have soul and how does this concept relate to the art of photography?  A photo has a soul when it has a significance or special meaning to the person viewing the photo.  Whether the photo has any technical merit is irrelevant.  Furthermore, a photo that is “soulful” to one person might complete be “soulless” to another.

So what does all of this really have to do with the art of photography?  Well, how do you make a photo “soulful” to a complete stranger?  A photo will always have some significant to the photographer himself since he was there at the scene to take the photo but what about a complete stranger who hasn’t been there before?   A mother will always have a special connection with a photo of her child but what about a stranger?  Great photos are the ones that anyone can relate to or ones that can communicate a certain feeling to the viewers.  A good advertising photo should create a feeling of desire in viewers; a great landscape photo should create a feeling of awe and appreciation of nature or perhaps something not particularly optimistic, a great portrait of a child should create a sense connection not only to the parents and family of the child but it should also create a sense of humanity in strangers.

So the next time when you’re out for a photo walk, don’t just think about the scene that you want to capture, rather think about the feeling that you want the viewer to have when they see your photos.


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