I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

The Layers of a Photograph

Apparently, if you photograph rain with a high enough shutter speed, it can look like snow. Cool!

What do you need to make a good photograph? Honestly, I think this is one of the hardest questions of all time. In their most basic form, photographs have three main elements:

1. Subject
2. Light
3. Composition

Often, if you have a really kick-ass subject, people will like your photographs. Go travel somewhere cool and everyone loves your shots. Use the same technique at home, and you might not get the same adulation.

Lighting, on the other hand, is my personal favorite, and many of my favorite photos would be nothing without the light in them. Cool light can make a photograph, and some photos are really only pictures of the light - the subject is almost nothing.

Composition, while arguably the most important of the three, is also the hardest to quantify and also the most difficult to truly master. Real control of composition can take a lifetime.

The photo above, for example? I'd say it definitely has cool light, passable composition and a fairly average subject. That still makes it a shot I'd post on the blog (clearly) but probably not one I'd put in my portfolio.

What about you? What other layers are there in a photograph? I can think of a few more that are quite important. Maybe we'll talk about those another day.


  1. Very nicely done and you "tutorial" is spot on. The only thing I might add would be depth, and your photo here does a good job of that. Of course for every rule there are ways to break it with total success.

  2. This looks like a Christmas card. =)

  3. Beautiful. Light is my favorite, but I haven't mastered it. Love shooting in the rain, for sure, expecially sports. Quick shutter and every aspect of the game is captured, even the rain. Have a great weekend.

  4. How cool, I didn't know that!

  5. Thanks Bill, Mandy and Lydia!

    Scott, yes, depth is important. Have you read David duChemin's latest ebook on the subject?

    And Laura, I agree, light is by far my favorite. So much so that I have to force myself to pay attention to the other two.

  6. This image is absolutely fantastic Jess! I agree it looks like a Christmas card, perhaps save it to use as one :).

  7. Very nice simple summary, Jessica. For me, there is one important element of the good photograph- colors. Sometimes I shoot abstract images, which are all about colors. These are my favorites.
    Your image is green and brown, no other colors dominate and subtract from the trees and the house. It creates balanced, pleasing image. Makes me want to get into this house and curl with a book in fron of fireplace :).


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