One of December’s talented 500px Guest Curators was photographer Joel (Julius) Tjintjelaar, and he fully embraced the real purpose of the Editors’ Choice section: to unveil photos and photographers that might not have made the Popular page for one reason or another… but probably should have.

In the short interview below, we ask him what makes a photo great in his eyes, and what his favorite photo from his portfolio is (and why). We also had him share his 3 favorite Editors’ Choice picks, and explain why they’re special in his mind.

Scroll down and enjoy!

500PX: For you, what are the qualities of a great photograph?

JOEL TJINTJELAAR: Actually this depends on what type of photograph you’re looking at: a news or documentary photograph should be unaltered and objective, while a fine-art photograph should be a subjective expression of the artist. In the case of the latter, it’s the personal vision of the artist that shines through in the photo that makes it fine-art. So I want to focus on the so-called fine-art photograph.

What makes a good fine-art photograph? It should make a good first impression: it has the ability to draw the immediate attention of the viewer. Then it should also make a good second impression: that’s the moment I look closer at it and want to be impressed by the craftsmanship that shines through in the details. Finally, when the photo ‘makes’ it to the second impression the viewer should step away from the photograph and leave a lasting impression on the viewer: the emotional aspect.

I don’t care for compositional rules or sharpness, those are all rules that need to be learned and then be broken by the artist. Subject matter doesn’t matter at all.

Out of all your own photos, what is your favorite? And can you share the story behind this shot?

JOEL: My own favorite photo is the one that started and still reflects my current style in architectural photography.

JOEL (continued): It’s Feeding water to the Ocean, a photo of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA that I shot in 2010 and it’s the first time I fully processed an architectural scene with the processing methods I still use these days that I call iSGM and that’s based on identifying, isolating and controlling the two most important aspects of any photograph when you deconstruct it in the post processing phase: shapes and light. Of course composition is key but I’m talking about the post processing phase here.

Joel (Julius) Tjintjelaar’s Favorite 500px Photographers

Now that you’ve gotten to know Joel a bit and understand what it is that makes a photo great in his mind, let’s dive into the three photographers he says should be much more popular than they are on 500px.

Usually we list the photos not photographers our Guest Curators picked, but Joel took a different approach to the selection process:

First I have to state that I deliberately looked for photos from photographers that have just a few followers and who should have a much larger audience. It’s easy to pick the usual suspects with thousands of followers, and even easier to pick them from the front pages or to pick a few that are shooting in the same genre as I do: Long exposure B&W.

I didn’t do that although sometimes you just can’t ignore them. When selecting the images it was not just a single photo I wanted to highlight but their whole body of work. Actually I selected the artist for the editor’s choice, not so much a specific photo of theirs.

So here it goes, a selection of extraordinary photographers that should have a much larger audience

Chris Friel

Chris is a colour blind painter turned photographer who has been shooting some very original and intriguing work over the years. In my opinion he’s a very versatile photographer and probably one of the greatest photographic artists you can find anywhere on the Web at this moment.

Not many people, especially not on 500px, will appreciate his work. It’s sometimes very disturbing, but always very emotive and powerful and certainly authentic. In his older work he used the tilt-shift lens in a very creative way, just look at this set.

Jean Michel Berts

Jean is a French artist with such classic, subtle and timeless B&W pieces. In terms of mood and B&W techniques his work is far and above the multitude of self proclaimed B&W artists on 500px. I chose the photo above from his work, but you should definitely check out the rest.

Kevin Saint Grey

Kevin is a multi award winning photographer. His work covers a variety of subject matter that are considered the typical B&W fine art subjects, but he does it in a way that has so much more class than most of the artists in that genre, whether this is about seascapes, landscapes or architecture. I chose this example of his work on 500px, but this is just a small representation of his whole oeuvre.

I’m not going to explain why their work is good in technical terms, it simply is good. But apart from their technical excellence their work has soul, emotion and authenticity — something that is lacking in the majority of the aesthetically pleasing work on 500px, perhaps including my own work. But I can’t judge for my own work.

We want to thank Joel for taking the time to be a part of our Editors’ Choice program, and for answering our questions for this short little interview.

To see more of his work or if you’d like to learn a thing or two from him, head over to his website — where you can check out his comprehensive long exposure photography guide and watch his video tutorials — or give him a follow on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and, of course, 500px.