Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Want To Make Better Photographs? Say Something Interesting!

Abandoned Boles-Aero Trailer - Mojave, California
Great photographs say something interesting. This applies to all forms of art--if it doesn't say something interesting, it is boring and forgettable. If you want to make better photographs then you have to say something interesting through those photographs.

What is interesting? It is either something that hasn't been said before or something that has been said before but put in a new way. That's what's interesting.

How do you speak through a photograph? Photography is a form of nonverbal communication. It is the composition that talks to the viewer. It is all of the choices that the photographer makes that decides what the message will be. It is the ideas and feelings that the photographer infuses into the image that says something. Among many other things, it is light, shadow, form and focus.
Broken Souls - Newberry Springs, California
It is never about equipmentYou can use a home-built camera like photographer Michael ChrismanYou can use a cheap Chinese camera like David BurnettYou can use a cell phone like Chase Jarvis. It is not what camera and lens one uses that matters, but what one creates with whatever camera they are using.

The opposite is also true. You can have a brand-new Leica, Hasselblad, or pro-end Canon or Nikon, but if your photographs don't say something interesting, then your photographs are not good.

So if equipment doesn't matter, what does? Photographic vision. Putting both your mind and heart into your photographs somehow. Being creative.

You are unique, and your point-of-view is unique. You have experiences that no one else does. You've got to tap into that. You've got to include that in your photography.
Peerless - Newberry Springs, California
Photographing what you are interested in is essential to speaking something interesting through your images. Try to have a conversation with somebody about some subject that you could care less about. How do you think that would go? Now try to have a conversation with somebody about a subject that you are passionate about. Do you think it might be different?

When you photograph a subject that you are passionate about, you are much more likely to nonverbally say something interesting. You'll have a lot more to speak and you'll have stronger "words" compared to a subject that you don't really care about.

Even within a subject, there are sub-genres that you might be more interested in than others. For example, within urban exploration, I have a fascination with the left-behind details that show that the place was once used by people (for living, working, recreation, etc.). For you it may be something completely different. But whatever it is, that's what you should be photographing.

Passion. Vision. Creativity. These are the things that will make a photograph great.

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