I do a fair amount of coaching for photographers. Coming from a photography background I have good understanding of the problems they face.
Especially when helping photographers curate their portfolios, I often have to ask a simple question:
“Is it an interesting picture? Or a picture of something interesting?”
What do I mean by this?
Well you can take a photo of a glitter covered rubber duck from basically any angle and it will look interesting. It’s a glitter covered rubber duck. So people will see that picture and think, ‘wow that’s interesting’
That alone doesn’t mean you’ve created anything, you’ve made anything or you’ve done anything of note. You’ve just seen something interesting, and clicked that button.
Now I’m not trying to be hard, it’s just the truth.
A picture of an interesting thing, is not, in itself an interesting picture.
As a photographer you need to be aiming beyond that. Anyone can take a picture of an interesting thing. You can do more. When I’m at a shooting a wedding for example, I’m taking thousands of pictures each and every day. Most of them, are of interesting things. (to the people involved, but that’s a whole other article.)
What separates a great photographer from an OK photographer is the ability to elevate a picture of a not-so-interesting thing. You can make an interesting picture of anything, if you put the thought into it.
You have the tools. Your angle, your framing, your lighting, your timing. Your vision. These are all things you control and with these tools you can add interest to anything.
An interesting photo is something that makes the viewer think. Something that connects on a deeper level and has meaning. Next time you pick up your camera, practice making interesting photos of not-so-interesting things. Then when you have something interesting in front of your camera you’ll be able to create magic.
If you can make an interesting photo of a sock, then when a glitter covered duck drops in your lap you’ll create something truly powerful.
So the next time you take a photo of an interesting thing, ask yourself… is this an interesting picture, or just a picture of an interesting thing?