What makes a good photo? I am photographer but not an authority like some of my great industry friends (Raphael Concepcion, Bill Fortney, Fran Rachalski, Levi Sim, etc). But I hope this becomes a series on why I chose one photo over another in my culling process, and it may help you down the line.
I went out and grabbed several dozen photos of the kids riding around the cul-de-sac. I grabbed a number of keepers which while good family memories, were not public sharing photos. The big reason for the difference in my opinion? A photo must tell some sort of story to grab someone's attention. You need to grab someone for more than 0.7 seconds to make an effect over the average image we see on the internet. (I made the 0.7 up but if you do the math based on the hundreds of images you see in a day, you'll get the idea quickly.)
So I started with this image in the stack:
It is a cute image of a girl, smiling, on her bike in the late morning sun. Lots of space to convey movement...but the wheels are frozen in time since my shutter speed was high. It really is suitable for sharing with family and friends. It does not, however, share any stories!
This image shares a story of cute kids riding, and a contrast between the five year old and the fourteen year old racing hard. The problem with this photo is the children have no connection with the camera, each other, or some other focus. There are stories here, but are two different stories we need to interrupt on their own merits. Just will not work.
My select for the article however throws stories at you. Cute posing kid engaging the viewer with a "Come watch me play!" grin. The juxtaposition with the hard riding big kid behind her, blurred in motion and depth of field says, "Watch me race!" engages the viewer as well. Since the second child is blurred, and darker than the foreground image, it is the second story in the frame. This type of deeper engagement makes this a better share with the world photo than the other two. I set this up while shooting, and cropped it in post to make it more effective.
So when you shoot...look for the story. When in post...improve the story through technical edits. In this way you balance emotion and logic...and make a memorable and meaningful photo to share with the world. Those ideas however, are for another day!