Guest post: Graham Shillington shares his Triangle of Awesomeness, the three attributes possessed by great photographers.

Article written by Graham Shillington, a Cape Town-based designer and digital producer. Graham’s Triangle of Awesomeness is a model for assessing photographers when you want to find a great one.

Real photographers are awesome. I take loads of pics with my iPhone, GoPro, Canon DSLR, Canon compact and old school Polaroid camera, but I have no illusions about being a photographer. As a designer/digital producer I end up using lots of images, and when there is budget for a photographer — I want a great one.

Looking back at the photographers I have worked with, I’ve noticed that there is a triangle of attributes. Two attributes make up the base:

1. Technical expertise

The old photography fundamentals like: F-stops, shutter-speed, depth of field, ISO… When you decide to take your camera off auto, you realize that there are lots of combinations here.

Then there are all the new fangled camera complexities like: Camera RAW, HDR, Megapixels…

2. Aesthetic craft

There is a whole lot to know about composition. Rule of thirds, negative space, face-space and more.

Lighting is also a big deal. If you can manage the light that travels through the hole in your lens properly — magic can happen. Contrast, ambience, emphasis, highlight and more.

Then, once you have the base of the triangle worked out, there is the third attribute, which pulls the photographer up towards greatness. It’s a soft attribute, which you probably don’t learn in a photography class. I’m calling it creative confidence.

3. Creative confidence

Creative confidence is that strong attribute you find in great photographers that allows them to:

  • Point a camera in someone’s face and not feel awkward about it.
  • Get a woman to take her clothes off on camera and not feel like a pervert.
  • Boss the CEO of a company around without feeling intimidated.
  • Lock up the agency that has commissioned the shoot in a caravan and not let them out until the shoot is over.
  • Take a single shot and know that the shoot is over.

Extending the metaphor:

Graham Shillington

Lots of different triangles out there taking photos. I want the red one.

Some photographers in Cape Town I can recommend:

Other favourites:

Article and graphics republished with permission. The post originally appeared on Graham’s Medium.