What does great photography actually mean?

Malasia Johnson
3 min readJan 19, 2021
Perfume Bottle Silhouette Campaign | All photos taken by Malasia J

Since spending more time at home, I have dedicated a lot of time to scanning work of other photographers (probably more than I should have). It’s interesting to see the different photographers today dominating the industry all with their own shooting styles.

But even more than this, it has led me to ask myself, “What exactly makes a great photograph?” Is it the ability to take a photo and get thousands of likes before the day is over? Is it a photograph that encompasses all of the correct technical elements like light, composition, exposure, etc.? Does it depend on the subject matter or who’s viewing the photograph at the time?

Creativity vs Technicalities

It’s interesting because I’ve come across beautifully crafted photographs that were underexposed — essentially challenging what it means for a photo to be technically correct. I’ve also come across photographs that had all the right elements to achieve the perfect photo that barely received any attention from the outside world.

A successful photograph depends on the intent of the photographer…

This occurs quite often in one way or another, which has led me to believe that great photography is not so much about how technically correct it is or whether the photo can go viral.

Rather, a successful photograph depends on the intent of the photographer, how successful they are at translating their ideas, and the time and creativity they put in to see it through.

In my opinion, this is what creates dynamic photography — no matter the industry. I think as photographers, and as artists in general, it’s so easy to question whether what you create is good enough to share with the world, and a lot of times, we feel defeated when we don’t receive the validation that we’d hoped for.

The reality is, your photographs won’t be for everyone. But there’s always a community of appreciators that resonate with your work, and that’s part of the beauty. What’s important for us photographers to do is to quiet the noise and focus on what we want to convey in our photographs. Mastering that is the key to success, and is what truly makes a great photograph.

Welcome to my Blog

My name is Malasia Johnson and I am a Commercial and Advertising photographer currently based in Chicago. I started medium because I wanted to find a new platform to share my work, my day-to-day as a photographer, and thoughts. This isn’t a blog about the best photography tips (though I might share some from time to time). This also isn’t a blog meant to convince you why you need to hire a photographer for your next project. In fact, this is more of a personal photo diary that includes some of my favorite photographs that I’ve taken, working to help tell an ongoing story. Enjoy.

Malasia Johnson

Hi, My name is Malasia Johnson, and I am a Commercial and Advertising photographer currently based in Chicago. I started medium to share my work and words.