This article by Anne Brewer won 1st prize in the 2014 Hare & Bell contest.


Recognizing a great photograph is easy. Maybe it’s a striking image in TIME Magazine or just a picture of a patiently-awaited sunset from your favorite vacation, but when all the elements in a photo come together, the result can be beautiful. But in the same way that a complex painting conceals a rough sketch, all the patience and work that a photographer puts into getting that perfect shot isn’t supposed to show. The final product is intended to stir an emotion, tell a story, or convey an idea, and, to the casual observer, doesn’t directly reveal the photographer’s possibly hard effort that went into capturing the scene. Consequently, the amount of time and skill involved in learning how to create something that looks deceptively effortless often is forgotten.