The single most important aspect of a great photograph is getting proper composition. How you place your subject and surrounding objects sets the tone of your picture. If you don't have the right composition then you won't be able to create a great photograph. It's the make or break element in creating a great photograph. You can take a picture that's not the most exciting to look at. Change the composition around to turn it into a picture that your reader can't take their eyes off of. Take your subject and take shots from different angles and heights. Creating different perspectives will allow you to get that great shot you desire. The shot has to be eye-catching and hold the viewer's attention to be a great one though. The attention to detail is what needs to stand out the most. If the shot has no detail or lacks the proper composition then your view will turn away and move on without taking notice.
Your use of lighting is also a very important and plays a major role in creating a great photograph. If you have no light to take a shot then there won't be a photograph. So, making sure you have proper lighting is most important. You then need to take that lighting and use it properly. Creating a silhouetted photo doesn't take as much light as a photo newborn photo session. Your lighting in these two instances are totally different. However, the lighting in both can be used to create a unique and detailed photograph. If your light is low and you don't have proper exposure your photography is going to turn out dark. You should consider light direction and the quality of the light as well as the color.
Our eyes are drawn more toward warmer colors such as orange and red. Cool colors such as greens and blues will draw the eyes of the viewer away. You can create a photo that has a 3D effect by using a Red object as your primary focus with a blue background. This is a great way to make your photo really stand apart. You have to remember that cool colors are soothing and peaceful. So, don't try to create shot that you want to portray lots of action. Vibrant colors and warm colors are what you want to use to get this effect. You want to make sure you get your colors right in post processing. You don't want green grass to look blue just to get a calming effect in your shot. Keep your colors true and don't try to totally change the objects original color.
A great photography can also be one that helps tell a story. If you are taking a portrait shot with people as your focus. You can allow your viewers a chance to be part of their story by proper placement within the shot. You can use post processing software to help illustrate an emotion by changing the eyebrows or creating a smile. This is an excellent way to create facial and hand gestures. Have a loving couple holding hands and staring into each others eyes is going to tell a story of love and show emotion. A couple waving their hands and giving the appearance of disagreement and discontent is going to look as though they are having an argument. These are the ways you can use your photo to tell a detailed story and make it a great photograph.
Trying to recreate what another photographer has already created never works. A great photographer should create their own masterpiece without using other photographer's ideas. @ photographer who looks at one's work and tries to duplicate it down to color and backdrop is cheating their client. Going out and creating a photo based a gut feeling and not having a set idea in mind beforehand will help set your apart from your competition as well. Make sure you are open-minded while trying to figure out what backdrops and unique objects you want to incorporate into your shot. Looking for a specific place on a beach or searching for the exact location another photographer used. Shows a lack of creativity and over time your portfolio will reflect it. Your clients will ask why all of your shots look the same and why you only use this field or that lighthouse as a backdrop.
Emotion is the last area that you should focus on while trying to create a great photograph. Capturing emotion is the one key element that any great photograph should have. Everyone's facial expression is unique and emotion can be seen in everyone's face. A person with a blank facial expression is showing emotion even if they don't realize it. A few emotions that most would think of are happiness, sadness, and excitement. If you stage these emotions and not capture them as a genuine emotion it will look staged or setup. Capturing raw and genuine emotion is rare. If you are a skilled photographer you'll be able to catch these rare glimpses into one's heart. Don't hesitate when you have the opportunity to capture these raw emotions. This is what will turn an average photograph into a great one.