Make Your Photos More Interesting

PF 099: 5 Tips That Will Make Your Photos More Interesting

We have 5 tips that will make your photos more interesting. Sounds magical, doesn't it? Far from it. These are tips that everyone can use to plan and create interesting photos.

Make Your Photos More Interesting to Everyone in 5 Easy Steps

In a perfect world, all of our photos would be interesting to everyone. It's not that simple. What's interesting to one person may not be interesting to another.

You have to develop your audience.

One of the best ways to do that is to take photos with a consistent style in a particular genre of photography. When you think of the photographers whose work you admire, aren't they often shooting the same type of photos?

Portraits, sports, travel or something else?

Whatever you shoot, you can use these same 5 tips to make your photos more interesting.

1: Select an Uncommon or Unusual Subject

What is it about our subjects that catch attention? It doesn't matter if you're photographing landscapes, travel or portraits. People want to see something that they don't often see.

Think about food photography as an example.

Would you rather see a common burger sitting on a plastic tray next to fries and a Coke, or an exquisitely prepared meal with careful attention to detail?

It's common to see fast food. Yet most of us don't have perfectly prepared, styled and plated food on a regular basis. We pay more for those experiences at high end restaurants. It's the kind of thing that we save for special occasions.

Your photography subject ought to follow the same idea.

Many people look for beauty, and that's definitely interesting to many people. However, there are plenty of great subjects that aren't necessarily beautiful.

I overheard a comment during a portfolio review that stuck with me. The reviewer looked at the photographer's work and said,

It's obvious you can take great photos of a beautiful person. Can you take a great photo of an interesting person?

Don't get caught up in photographing the same subjects as everyone else. Those photos become common. Look for something that's either uncommon or unusual for your audience.

2: Use Interesting Light and Avoid Flat Light

Joe McNally shares advice with his audience that one of his mentors once shared with him.

If you want to make something look interesting, don't light all of it.

Shadows are your friend. They define and shape your subject. They add mystery to your subject.

Flat light, on the other hand, reveals everything. There's no mystery to your subject when it's all revealed, and therefore it's a less interesting way to photograph a subject.

Check out the work of Tim Wallace at Ambient Life. He's a commercial automotive photographer who is a master of using shadow to define his subjects. His lighting and photography earned him clients like Ferrari, Aston-Martin and more.

3: Your Photos Should Have a Message or Story

Photography is a form of free speech. When you have free speech, it's best to have something to say. If you want other people to pay attention, you better say something interesting.

The good news is that people naturally love stories. We use them for entertainment, education and persuasion.

The stories don't need to be long or complex. Think of the story in your photograph as the first act of a play. It should set a premise or imply something.

That's it.

You could take a photograph of a chalk menu board outside a restaurant you visited. The story entices people who want to imagine having a great meal inside, to have a chance meeting with a stranger, or spend a romantic time with someone they love.

All you have to do is set up the possibility of an interesting story. If you imply something interesting, your audience will infer it in their own way.

4: Make Sure the Subject Works with the Background

The advice I often give is to eliminate distractions from the background. I like to avoid busy backgrounds most of the time.

While that's good advice, it isn't necessarily the key to an make your photos more interesting. Instead, you need to look for a background that supports your subject.

They have to work together.

The reason I often like to use simple backgrounds is because the background should never overpower your subject. However, there are exceptions.

The environment surrounding your subject can make your photos more interesting.

Nikon 14-24mm Lens Review

This is a photo of Space Shuttle Endeavour after its last mission. The background and surrounding environment are rather busy, but it's appropriate for the subject.

This was home for the Space Shuttle fleet inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. Most people never get to go inside, much less get close to a Space Shuttle.

5: Use Uncommon Angles or Show Perspective

My photo of Endeavour has most of the attributes to make your photos more interesting.

  • It's an uncommon subject in an uncommon place
  • The light has highlights and shadows
  • There's a story element of showing the subject inside the VAB
  • The background supports the subject and they work well together.

Angles or Perspective are the final touch.

To be honest, I would have loved to change my angle and photograph the space shuttle from above. That wasn't in the cards for me. A dead-on photo is all I could get as that was the limit of my access.

However, we still have perspective – a spacial relationship for the subject.

In other words, we can show depth in our photos by having a foreground, a middle and a background.

There's a fence in the lower foreground of the photo. You can come this far, no further.

Endeavour is in the middle with an imposing angle.

The VAB itself is our background.

These three elements give us a sense of depth, size and space. Many people understand roughly the size of the space shuttles, as we've seen photographs of them on the back of a 747.

Showing the space around and behind the shuttle let's the viewer know that its home, the VAB, is enormous. That unspoken detail is prt of the story of the subject.

An interesting angle can dramatically change how your audience perceives your subject. That's why many people are getting into drone photography. It's an interesting angle on a subject and shows us new facets and details about our environment. Even portraits from drones are becoming popular.

At some point, this will change from unusual into an overdone fad. For now, drone photographers have an advantage in getting angles that other photographers lack.

Make Your Photos More Interesting to Your Audience

If you're paying attention, you may notice that the first tip is subjective. What is uncommon or unusual to some of us may be mundane to others.

That's why it's important to develop your audience and feed them the photos they find interesting.

You can't be all things to all people.

FREE ON1 Lightroom Presets

ON1 has some free presets for Lightroom users. Check out their presets for landscapes, winter, grain & film and more. There are some by professional photographers, like Trey Ratcliff and Matt Kloskowski, too.

Just click here to get your free Lightroom presets.

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