There are a few photographs in history that have swayed the heads and hearts of people. These are labelled “classic” or “timeless” for their ability to influence intellect and emotions of generations. These masterpieces present a gem of thought or a message for mankind. A study of these classic photos is an affirmation of our ability to perceive quality in images with the formation of a typical outlook.
How we appreciate and study a photograph, especially a classic one, technically depends on a few factors that are universally applicable. Personal experience, outlook and preferences add to the objective judgement. At a photography training institute, students take photos that they analyse using the same objective parameters that we are discussing here.
The classic photos can be analysed for the following features;
They tell a story…
What iconic images comes to your mind when you think about a photograph that tells a story? Consider the “Starving Child & Vulture” or the “Tank Man”. These photos are so soul-stirring and eventful that any viewer would explore its background. That leads them to explore the circumstances and happenings around the photograph. That is how classic images stand out and become timeless. The “Falling Man” from the tragedy at Twin Towers is a more recent photo that is relevant in this context.
If you are submitting a picture for your assignment at a photography training course ensure that it narrates a story to its viewers.
They capture the emotion…
Take a look at Diego Frazão Torquato’s photo of a Brazilian kid playing a violin at his teacher’s funeral. Or the picture “The Greatest Love of All” by Ario Wibisono. These images ooze emotions that you can relate with. A classic photograph can be valued for the emotion it depicts and its relevance to humanity.
They have great composition!
If you checked Josef Koudelka’s “Gypsies – Skeleton Boys”, you’ll realise how the beauty of composition sets a picture apart. In this classic photo, the photographer has utilised the presence of triangular figures formed by the 3 boys in the frame and even 3 triangular forms created by the anatomy of each boy. The picture in fact has a lot more triangular formations if you observe well. There is an amazing balance in the photo and this, makes it a perfect example for smart composition.
It is the basic parameter followed to get the composition right, and is a subject primarily taught in photography classes.
They leave scope for imagination!
Victoria Ivanova’s “Barge Haulers on the Volga” is a good example for images that stir your imagination. It is also the trait of a classic image that prompts you to visualise its key imagery and meaning. It takes a good amount of imagination to see a different dimension in a scene. Photography schools like Hamstech inculcate this ability in the students when they’re introduced to abstract methods of photography.
Studying a timeless picture with these parameters can bring out a quality comprehension and learned appreciation that makes your judgement valuable in every context.