What is a noteworthy photo?
Deutsche Version: Was ist ein sehenswertes Foto?
Version française :: Qu'est-ce qu'une photo remarquable ?

© German Federal Archive / B145 Picture-F088809-0038 / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE / Photographer Joachim F. Thurn / Painting: Dmitri Wladimirowitsch Wrubel / East Side Gallery, 1990 / Original Photo: Régis Bossus, Oct 5, 1979

The answer is simple

The answer is actually simple, as we all know such photos. They arouse our curiosity by showing something unfamiliar or something familiar in a special way. They stimulate our imagination. They move us emotionally. Noteworthy photos speak for themselves:
© Steve Mc Curry, Tailor In Monsoon Floods, 1983, Reference: Leica Store, Wetzlar
© Nick Ut, The Horror Of War, 1972,
Reference: Wikimedia
© Yongqing Bao, The Moment, 2019,
Reference: Natural History Museum, London

The more they do this, the less they have to be perfect. Their creators don't have to add many words - which does not mean that supplementary information is superfluous. It is often helpful, but never necessary for their impact. Noteworthy pictures are those that evoke special attention, admiration or praise. They go right under our skin. Here is another one that I saw a year ago in the exhibition The Family of Man in Clervaux (Luxemburg):
© Wayne Miller, The universe resounds with the joyful cry I am, 1946
Reference: Smithsonian Magazine

Is it important for us anyway?

Now some will probably say: "That's out of my league! I'm just an amateur photographer, not a professional". And, as Tanja Loughcrew pointed out in her comment on my article What is a good Photo?: Many of us are only with ipernity to network and communicate with others - with "photos that mean something to oneself and from which one hopes that others might also like them".

For us as a self-managed community, however, there is an important reason to deal with this issue: The external impact of our website. How do visitors from the World Wide Web perceive ipernity on their first visit? Is our website inviting? Does it motivate people to take a closer look at it and perhaps even consider becoming a member later on? Because, like all associations, ipernity is subject to permanent renewal, which requires regular influx of new members. That's why this topic is relevant for all of us, even for those who have less photographic ambition and would rather network.

It's essential for the future of our community!

Visitors from the World Wide Web usually explore our website via the Explore-Button on our homepage:
© ipernity, 2022, Reference: Homepage Proof #1477

From there they are led to our showcases: our Presentation of Selected Groups, our Gallery with the most popular recently added public photos, and also a presentation of the Most Noteworthy Photos by our Community.

So we are in the same situation as a merchant who wants to decorate the window of his shop: What shall be displayed? The answer is also simple: anything that catches the eye of passers-by:
© seise, 1(560)...austria vienna...street, 2020, Reference: seise@ipernity

What is eye-catching?

Never the normal, the everyday, of course. Even if you have a shop for everyday needs, you will put things into the showcase that will make passers-by stop, take a closer look and, preferably, come into the shop. Showcases are not meant for core customers who know what they want and where to get it, but for walk-in customers. To illustrate with another example: Imagine you operate an underwear shop. What goes in the shop window? Certainly not the standard white fine-rib underwear, but attractive fashionable underwear that people might not buy, but enjoy looking at:
© Bergfex, Photo walk in my home village, 2020, unpublished yet

And what about our gallery?

Sadly, our gallery shows not only photos that are particularly worth seeing, but also a lot of everyday photos. These don't have to be poor pictures. They can even be precious, but they are not always eye-catching.

Another two weaknesses of our 'Gallery' are: It shows only the latest pictures and only the most popular ones which quickly get the most FAVs and comments right after uploading. But these are not always the most noteworthy pictures, even if it flatters each of us to find one of our pictures there. Maybe your picture even made ist to the top of the gallery because you are socially well-connected? Congratulations! It's perfectly fine. That's what ipernity is for. But unfortunately, the evaluation by friends is rarely objective, and for external visitors it is never relevant.

What is attractive for external viewers?

Unbiased external viewers always perceive a picture from three angles:
© Bergfex, Illustration 1, 2022

1. Attention

I recently saw the documentary "Terra X, Winter Adventure - Animals in the Snow". It's about the use of high-tech miniature cameras in realistic animal robots or artificial snowballs. It looks like this:
© ZDF Mediathek, 2022, Reference: Abenteuer im Winter - Tiere im Schnee

At first contact with the snowball camera, the polar bears were highly interested. Would it be possible to eat it, or was it dangerous? After a short time, the bears didn't care about the camera anymore. The bullet could roll around the bears undisturbed. It was ignored and could now do what it was designed to: Making never-before-seen film clips of polar bears living in the wild.

Why am I quoting this? Because we humans don't behave any differently. The unknown mainly catches our attention. The familiar, on the other hand, attracts us less:
© Bergfex, Illustration 2, 2022

When looking at series of pictures, we have a fluctuating attention which varies from picture to picture. To trigger the reaction to study a picture more closely, a certain stimulus level must be surpassed. This varies from person to person and is strongly dependent on the state of fatigue. We know this: When clicking through the ipernity Gallery after work, our attention usually wanes after just a few overview pages.

This is not any different for visitors to our Most Noteworthy Pictures. If we want to gain the attention of viewers, we do well to present motifs which are unknown, rare or instinct activating. Less suitable are pictures that have often been seen or are commonplaces.

In today's media age, we are very saturated with impressions. That's why it takes something special to draw the viewer out from behind the stove. Besides a special motif, you may also be lucky enough to snap a unique situation. It doesn't have to be as extraordinary as the kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker. Even small incidents like mating snails can be unique.

But the problem is: rare motifs or situations are rare. That's in their nature. Many things are already known. But maybe not yet in the way you have photographed it. Maybe you chose a special perspective, took advantage of a special light situation or were creative in a different way that produced a truly unique result. Here we can make full use of our creative talent and our skills as photographers, even if we are only amateurs.

2. Fiction

I would also like to use an example to illustrate this angle. What do we see here?
© Heidiho, speechless, 2015, Reference: Heidiho@ipernity.com

Women in burkas, a brick wall with a barred window, all shot in a high sun. If you look closely: Only the woman on the far right seems to be walking. The others are standing still. And now? What story does the picture tell you? Or rather: What is your fiction whispering to you? Whatever it is, it is 99.999% likely to be wrong. Heidiho wrote the real story under the picture. Read it for yourself.

The often-used metaphor: "A good picture tells a story" is linguistic nonsense. No picture ever tells anything. Everything is just your fiction. Your brain makes it up:
© Bergfex, Illustration 3, 2022

Many aspects play a role in this: cultural conditioning, wishes, concepts, private experiences, mental blueprints, interests, memories, beliefs, and more.

What is true, however, is that as a photographer you can manage, within the given framework, which fantasies you might evoke in potential viewers. This is the great playground of photographic creativity. And what is also true: a picture worth seeing should always arouse a lot of fiction. For this satisfies the viewer since his brain is stimulated. Imagery that does not inspire fiction is only figuring.

3. Emotions

There is actually not much to write about this last angle. Who wouldn't be warmed by this photo?
© Amelia Heath, Emotion, 2019, Reference: Amelia Heath@ipernity.com

Pictures with children are almost always emotionally touching. But other shots can be too. An autumnal landscape picture can trigger melancholy, the macro of an insect can evoke disgust, the photo of a homeless person in New York can evoke sadness or outrage.

Instead of losing myself in a list, I refer to the corresponding Wikipedia article 'Emotion' from which I have taken this wheel of emotions:
© Bergfex, Illustration 4, 2022
© Robert Plutchics, Wheel of emotions, 2011,
Reference: Wikipedia (CC)
Other languages: see the linked Wikipedia article.

Just like fiction, the nature or intensity of an emotional reaction depends highly on the individual viewer. In general, all that can be said is that a picture with an emotional impact is more likely to be noticed and better remembered.

And what about the 'photo quality'?

As already mentioned, 'photo quality' is less important for photos that are extraordinarily worth seeing. But such photos are rather an exception in our community. For us, it is more likely that a modest 'photo quality' will spoil the most splendid photo. Especially if typical amateur mistakes were made (crooked horizons, sensor spots, unfavourable focus, etc.).

Sometimes the quality of a photo can be lifted by re-editing, as with the snail photo mentioned above, where the photographer had to accept the circumstances he met. Otherwise, a modest photo quality is only acceptable for really exceptional shots, as our Ambassador Pictures are a kind of flagship for our community. Normally, postings should have a quality of or better with respect to the grading scale mentioned in my article "What is a good photo?"

Don't forget: The point is motivating visitors to get interested in our community.


Whether photos are worth seeing is decided by the viewers only. Generally speaking, pictures are more likely to be considered worth seeing, if they

- attract attention,
- arouse fiction,
- touch emotionally.

For truly exceptional photos, the 'photo quality' is less important. Normally, however, a photo for the group 'Ambassador Pictures' should have at least a good amateur quality.

If a picture of yours meets at least two of the three criteria mentioned above, you are invited to submit it to the group: Ambassador Pictures. How the editorial team selects the photos from all the submissions that will finally make it into our showcase with the 'most noteworthy pictures' will be the subject of a third, final article.

Bernhard Westrup (Bergfex)
St. Johann in Tyrol
December 9, 2022

Postscript 1: I'm not a professional, just an amateur. Therefore, I may have been erring in some details, or I may have forgotten to mention something. I ask anyone who reads this article and notices any discrepancies to let me know. I like to learn.

Postscript 2: When asked which of my pictures I would submit to the editorial team for evaluation: This one:

© Bergfex, Utmost attention, 2015, Reference: unpublished yet


Diana Australis said:

Relevant, well written and appropriate, in my opinion, Bernhard. Thank you.
19 months ago

William Sutherland said:

Excellent continuation of your article.
19 months ago

Bergfex said:

See also:

What is a good photo?
19 months ago ( translate )

Jean-luc Drouin said:

Je n'apporterai qu'une précision pour le premier point que tu évoques : "les informations supplémentaires" que tu évoques, non seulement ne sont pas superflues, mais elles sont indispensables. Une bonne photo peut se passer de mots par son impact. Mais la comprend-t-on ? Sans la contextualisation ne faisons-nous pas un contre-sens ? Il est toujours possible de faire dire l'inverse de ce qu'elle dit ou de ce qu'elle montre à une photo. Les régimes dictatoriaux utilisent des images sans légendes pour servir leur propagande. C'est la raison pour laquelle les photographe professionnels exigent que la photo soit accompagnée de sa légende originale car ils savent que toute photo peut être vidée de son sens.
19 months ago ( translate )

Bergfex replied to Jean-luc Drouin:

Vous pouvez voir quelle est ma position personnelle sur cette question par le fait que je donne toujours à mes photos un titre et une description. Mais ce n'est pas le cas de tout le monde. C'est pourquoi je vous remercie si vous contribuez à rendre compréhensibles le but et l'importance. J'admets que j'ai formulé les choses de manière trop vague pour ne pas offenser les ignorants.

Il y a quelques jours, je suis tombé sur un exemple négatif particulièrement flagrant dans la section "Explore/New" : www.ipernity.com/doc/1491182/51691292
19 months ago ( translate )

Malik Raoulda said:

Un article très intéressant et très attrayant.Notre site Etant un site de photographie;
il est nécessaire de faire la part des choses.Beaucoup d'entre nous sont plus ou moins professionnels et possèdent la technique et les bases de la photographie,
connaissent l'impact et le ressenti,une fois la photo publiée. Cependant la majeur partie d'entre nous reste amateurs et se forge au fur et a mesure en apprenant sur le tas.Aussi doit-on préciser que pour " Photos d'ambassadeurs "le choix sélectif doit se référer a la qualité,au style et aux intérêts recherchés et surtout a la vitrine de notre site.
19 months ago ( translate )

Bergfex replied to Malik Raoulda:

C'est ainsi que je vois les choses. Il ne sert à rien de mettre des montres Rolex ou Gucci en vitrine si on ne peut vendre que des Casio. Une vitrine doit montrer ce que l'on a de plus attrayant à offrir, mais elle ne doit jamais être un faux.
19 months ago ( translate )

Marko Novosel said:

Great article,you mentioned couple of our weaknesses,i can manage all of them,they dont give me much of a problem,every person is responsible for their input or work creatively.
The thing that i find as a big problem for people who are looking at our photos from the outside is the layout,what is person seeing when he clicks on a photo.

They dont see the photo like it is,but the photo is put in a frame,there is a white line going around the photo on a blue back.
How i know is bad?
Couple of times i showed it to other people,both of them asked,how so that photos are displayed inside this frame,you can not see this anywhere,on any other photo platform.

We can argue that this is something what is special to our place,something original..but its not good,it is pushing people away,we can accept a lot of things cause we love this place and will be here to the end but if we are looking to expand and attract new members this is really something to consider improving and make it simple.

Just as those photos you attached to your article,just simple photos as eye can see it,no frames,no colorful back,no extra manipulation.
19 months ago

Bergfex replied to Marko Novosel:

Thank you for your appraisal of my article. What I cannot understand, however, is the blue frame you mentioned. Because this is what I see:

Screenshot 2022-12-11 09.18.32 Screenshot 2022-12-11 09.18.41 Screenshot 2022-12-11 09.19.43
19 months ago

Marko Novosel replied to :

Yes,thats also what i see,but when i take my sisters phone and open a photo on Ipernity then it comes with a white frame,ill try to printscreen and post it later.
19 months ago

Bergfex replied to :

With pleasure, Marco. Because of course it should be in all our interests to present ipernity as attractively as possible for guests.
19 months ago

Marko Novosel replied to :

Its all good now,weird..checked on two phones,great!
19 months ago

Bergfex replied to :

Thank you!
19 months ago ( translate )

Annemarie said:

Thanks a lot for your effort........... of course very well written and appropriate.
Objectivity......and subjectivity.......fit together!

Whatt can I say?
19 months ago

trester88 said:

Großartiger Artikel, Bernhard! Du beschreibst hier sehr gut die psychologische Wirkung von Bildern auf den Betrachter. Das sollte jeder Fotograf im Hinterkopf haben, denn das hilft ungemein bei der Motivsuche und bei der Auswahl der eigenen Bildpräsentation.
19 months ago ( translate )