one perfect photograph

I originally posted this article in May of 2010, but I think it’s worth reposting

This is a photographically perfect picture (sadly, I did not take it).

It is quite possibly the best I've ever seen.

I'll tell you why.

1. Color:

The colors are really visually pleasing. Salmon, algae green, deep dark blue at the horizon, faded sea-sky blue at the top, the calm and soft tan sand. Every color in this picture is perfect and perfectly proportioned. There is no color that appears out-of-place.

2. Depth:

The diagonally disappearing lines of the surf guide your eye way back and way out, creating incredible and seemingly endless depth.

3. Rule Breaking:

The framing of the picture breaks the widely regarded and respected ...rule of thirds“ that almost every photography book and class will tell you are all but mandatory. The rule essentially states that the subject of the picture should never be placed directly in the center of the photograph. In this photo, the main focal point – the buoy – is placed directly in the center, awesomely breaking the rule. However, since this rule is often the first thing anyone learns about photography, I believe it should be thrown out entirely. There are no rules in creativity. That's the whole point. It is important to break rules.

4: Rule Following:

The photo does not break the rule of thirds in every case, however. The focal point of the image has two main parts – the buoy and the two guys. The buoy is directly in the center, breaking the rule, but the placement of the guys follow the rule perfectly – one third to the right, and one third up. Rules should be broken, but they are also often good ideas to follow. After all, they were created for a purpose.

5. Emotion:

One of the first things most people notice about this photograph is that it is hilarious. These two guys (who happen to be my brother (left) and a guy who is basically my brother (right)) look like the could work for Carnival Cruise lines as hype guys that are paid to walk around wearing only shorts and skipper hats and yelling ...Everybody's getting tropical!“ with bad Jamaican accents and handing out strawberry daiquiris with frilly umbrellas and pineapple chunks on the sides. Every photo should convey some kind of emotion. Any emotion works, but it should always say something.

6. Content:

The sum of the secondary parts of the photo also convey an emotion in and of themselves, apart from the humor in the two guys. The old forgotten buoy, the soft and small waves, gently sloshing onto the shore, slow and easy. The infinite horizon, the barnacles and sea growth on the bottom of the buoy, the calm shadow resting on the sand, the utter emptiness in the background of the shot. These things encourage peace and rest in the viewer, making the image peaceful and easy to stare at for hours.

7. Timelessness:

This photograph could have just as easily been taken 30 years ago or yesterday. It is impossible to tell from the image when the shot was taken (unless you happen to know the two dudes).

8. Contrast:

Not the actual contrast of the image itself (which works perfectly as well), but the contrast of old and new, rusty and smooth, happy and somehow sad, the friendship of the guys against the loneliness of the buoy. The sea against the sky. The waves against the beach. The list goes on and on. This image has incredible contrast, both technically and aesthetically.

9. Continuity:

This is a small point, but it is nonetheless important. Without the skipper hats on the two guys, the photo would lose almost all of its continuity. Two young guys sitting on the buoy without hats would seem more much uncomfortable and completely disjointed. The hats tie everything together and make the image work.

10. Comprehensiveness:

This might seem redundant, but the fact that this photograph contains all of the elements listed above makes it comprehensively sound, and earns itself yet another point on whatever scale we are using here. Each item is worth a point, and all of the items together, in total and perfect unity earn another point.

All in all, this photograph is one of the best, most perfect, most complete, and most pleasing photographs I have yet to come across. The photographer, Steve Kinzler, should be very, very proud.