Craftsmanship, Composition, Creativity, Communication – the 4-C’s of Photography

This post’s title is the subtitle of my blog

The 4-C’s capture the essence of photography

Mastering them is key to making good images

Although all four are important

Composition plays an especially key role

Paintings provide a road map to good composition

The purpose of this post is to introduce WikiPaintings

A source of nearly 100,000 paintings

Georgia & Me

A Georgia O’Keefe Painting & A Photo of Mine

My photo processed using Topaz Simplify Painting Preset

(otherwise as captured)

Captured before seeing the Georgia O’Keefe painting

I’ll buy a white calla lily and see how close I can come


Painting Composition

An S-curve

Subject off-centered toward top of frame

Note the nearly equidistant spacing at top and both sides

This spacing is something that I almost always try for

Apart from the stem, the compositions are similar


Composition – arrangement of visual elements in a picture space

Good composition does this in an aesthetically pleasing manner

If you learn well by example,

You should spend time viewing images –

But not just photos

IMO, paintings offer wonderful composition learning examples

If you’re not familiar with WikiPaintings, you’re in for a treat

Examine some paintings, especially of masters.

Observe how they

Arrange their visual elements in the picture space

Move the viewer’s eye

Use color, tones, texture


Can you see a relationship between these factors and an artist’s style (beyond content such van Gogh and sunflowers)?

What sets apart an O’Keeffe from a Monet from a van Gogh from a ….

Consider a personal project where you attempt to mimic a painting you admire through your camera

I plan to try imitations of several Georgia O’Keeffe flower paintings

Follow that project with one where you attempt to mimic the style – but not any specific painting


The above is not to downplay the other three C’s.

Far from it, however composition plays a major role in making a good image AND is almost 100% under your control

Craftsmanship (exposure, focus, color, etc.) is a no-brainer with today’s technology.

The measure of good craftsmanship isn’t subjective; if you messed up it’s obvious to everyone

If your image is not well crafted it’s your fault for not knowing your equipment

There’s no substitute for RTFM & practice; even a caveman can do it

Creativity – Some people are more creative than others

Ask yourself  “Have I seen this before?”

Yes? – not creative; try something else

Communication – Telling a story or “Does it sing to me?”

Very subjective and varies from viewer to viewer

Unlike Craftsmanship where 100% of viewers will know you erred, you will never get a unanimous (or even close) opinion on the story told (not only what, but how well)

Composition is totally within your control and you get no help from technology

Good or bad composition can make or break your image regardless of your creativity and story telling

Check out how the masters do it – they must know something 😉


Subscribe (see sidebar) and don’t miss anything. New posts daily.

  • No sidebar? Click the blog title at the top of this page.

Another option – Click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the screen.

  • Or – “Follow” in your admin bar, displayed at the top of the screen, for logged-in users.


Leave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.