what really makes a good photograph?

so, this week has been insane. i’ve shot more events in 5 days then most people do in a month. it was exhausting, exciting, educating, enthralling, and some other “e” word. it was my first international conference and it was called Women Deliver. i actually had to submit a formal proposal featuring my work, pricing, and deliverable times. i was put up against 5 other dc pros and won out… wow. when i first got the booking i started to wonder if maybe i bit off more than i could chew. 17 events in one day??? required coverage of many different celebrities, attendees, AND award winning photojournalists?? tons of concurrent events in the, oh yeah just, 2.3 million square foot Walter E. Washington Convention Center. all by myself. yikes.

well, things ended up going fantastically well. here are 16 images.

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24so, it’s kind of a strange photo to end this on, huh? you might be wondering why the title of this blog post has yet to tie into anything i’ve said so far. well, it has to do with this photo. when i took a workshop with ryan brenizer a few months ago he started his lecture by asking us “what photos do you have that you’d just die if you ever lost them?” he then showed us a handful of images that were the most special to him. mostly, they were older film shots of various quality and anything but technically perfect pictures. now, i probably wouldn’t die i if lost this photo, but what i realized about this picture is that even though it’s grainy, blurry, and contains a trash can….i’m 100% perfectly happy with it. i had my $7,000 rig in a bag literally right next to me, but it didn’t matter. this photo was taken using my iphone by a women from uganda whose touching story i heard over and over throughout the day. me, rachael leigh cook, and a few others spent most of the day together running around sharing their stories to spread awareness of staggering rates of maternal deaths throughout the world. 350,000 – 500,000 girls and women die from pregnancy-related causes every year. i was brought along to document the sharing and it was a very memorable day for me. this photo will instantly bring me back to that day and to the excitement i felt knowing i was lucky enough to be doing what i was doing.

many other photos can be found at www.womendeliver.org

So, the answer to “what makes a good photograph?” The answer is different for all of us. To me it’s the meaning and thought behind the image. To others it might be technical aspects or technique. You have to reflect on yourself and figure out what your own values are in photography.

Photography by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Sam Hurd

About Sam Hurd

Sam is a professional wedding and editorial photographer based in the Washington DC area. He photographs 40+ weddings a year, press events, commercial portraiture, and regularly hosts workshops in his Baltimore MD studio and around the world. His work has been published internationally including the Wall Street Journal, the NYTimes, and the Washington Post. He's available for commissions worldwide.

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