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Have you ever looked at the photos app on your phone and wished you could easily find the best pictures to make in to prints? Not every photo you take needs to be displayed on the walls of your home. The best, though, deserve to be seen on a scale grander than a phone screen. Read on for three characteristics that most "display-able" photos share.

Start with Light

Portrait of an autumn woman lying over leaves and smilingPhotographs are made from light. The best photos incorporate light in their story telling. At a minimum, the photo should be correctly lit; not over- or under-exposed.

Look for light that conveys emotion: the brilliant oranges of sunset, or the shining yellows of fall. Examine photos for reflected or filtered light. These can help set your photo apart.

Make sure faces aren't in shadow, or that subjects (more on that below) don't fade in to the background.

Find Your Subject

Family walking on the beachThe best photos have an identifiable subject. Even those grand landscape photos, taking in the vast expanse of the American West for instance, feature a grounding point to which one's eye is drawn. From this starting point, the mind is free to wander through the rest of the photo, but that subject is somewhere the attention always returns.

If you're selecting photos of people, look for images in which the subjects are engaged. They can obviously be engaged with the camera in posed shots, but some of the most memorable, interesting photos are when people are engaged in a candid moment.  Look for these opportunities.

Make it Visual Interesting

Composition is key to a great photo. The most straightforward method to ensuring an interesting photo is to follow the rule of thirds. Imagine a photograph divided into three sections both vertically and horizontally. On one of the four intersections of those dividing lines are roughly where your subject should be. 

long boat on island in Thailand

Wrap Up

Once you've gotten the basic of photo selection down, you're most of the way to making great photo prints for your home.


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Matt Welch

Written by Matt Welch