2 Tips for Creating Purposeful Photos

Landscape in black and white of Monument Valley. Photograph created for a book. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Landscape in black and white of Monument Valley. Photograph created for a book.

Reason #2 for Creating Purposeful Photos: Pleasing Your Audience

When you create photos, you want them to be seen and appreciated by the people who make up your audience.

Photography is a means of artistic expression. You reveal your true emotions. You convey personal messages. You appreciate having an audience that shares the same values as you. I am exactly like you. I like to please art lovers, collectors, and my own followers.

Making people happy is a fundamental characteristic of the human species. We need to share our joy with others if we are to be recognized.

But to be recognized and to continue captivating an audience, you have to be interested in their expectations. You must respond to their desires. You have to create photos with a specific purpose.

How: Creating Purposeful Photos

You have certainly understood that creating photos for a specific use will make you satisfied and happy in personally impacting your audience.

Since you will be talking to people who share the same values as you do, you will find the motivation to continue in the direction you have chosen.

Why don't you invite other people as well? Why not share your passion for art with people who do not personally know your photographic artistry and artistic approach? These are the two questions that you must ask yourself.

The answer I am going to give you is simple. I finally realized it after years of struggling to convince others of my good faith and artistic ideas.

In the audience that does not know you, there are two categories of people. First, those you will never convince. Second, those who are ready to be part of your audience but who simply do not know you yet.

For the first category, do not waste your time. I learned that no matter what I could do, these people would not try to understand me. I behave this way too. I have specific ideas about how to behave with others. For example, I am not racist or xenophobic. No one will ever be able to change my mind about my fundamental beliefs of human rights. I am firmly rooted in my ethical and moral positions. I think that for photographic art, the same convictions apply. So, I advise you not to waste your time trying to convince people who do not want to be changed.

Instead, focus on your relationship with others. If you want to be appreciated by the second category of people who do not know you, you must send clear, understandable messages about your values. If they share those values, then they will likely become a follower of your work.

Creating photos for a specific purpose is one way to do this. For example, if you like illustrative photography for news stories, then create photos for that use. Do not change the way you are.

I will give you two tips on how to do this.

Tip #1: Define Your Photographic Why

If you want to create photos for a specific use, such as for a report, a contest, a festival, an exhibition in a gallery, or a post on social media, the best advice I can give is to define your photographic why.

I want to remind you that your photographic “why” will allow you to define a goal for your photographs. The photographic “why” outlines your reasons for practicing the art of photography. It is your raison d'être as a photographer. With a strong photographic “why”, you will move quickly in your activity. You will no longer be distracted. You will be focused on a specific goal.

Your photographic “why” allows you to define steps in your photographic projects. This is what I call “intermediate objectives”.

Your photographic “why” defines the rails on which you will move forward as you craft your creations.

As I explained in a previous blog post, it is not always easy to create. You have to invest immense time in introspection. If you crave success, you have to go the distance to reach it.

This is one of the reasons that pushed me to create my photo workshops. At each workshop, I help photographers develop a strong photographic “why” that inspires and motivates them to propel forward and achieve their goals and dreams. My goal is to help other people create interesting pictures that speak to the soul.

To create photos for a specific use, create in a simple way with a strong photographic “why”.

Tip #2: Define Your Photographic Artistry

Once you have defined why you practice photography, all that remains is for you to define your photographic approach. This is also one of the subjects I address during my photography workshops.

I would like to remind you that your photographic approach can be broken down into two points:

  • Your photographic vision.
  • Your photographic signature.

Your photographic vision defines how you see the world around you.

Your photographic signature defines how you show your world to others through images.

When you are going to define your photographic approach, do not try to “copy and paste” other photographers’ vision and signature.

You, my friend, are unique. Your photographic approach belongs only to you, and there is only one you in this world. Thus, it must resemble you alone. You are the only person who can express your emotions and convey your messages. We have a universe surrounding us that is beautiful, intimate, fantastic, and majestic. Only you can share that universe with others through your vision and signature.

When you look at photographic activity in magazines, on websites or especially on social networks, be careful. Take a step back. Most photos that are published are just media noise. Most of these photos have been taken without any particular meaning. They do not follow any particular logic. They were not built on a solid photographic foundation.

These photos will be forgotten as quickly as they were seen.

Avoid media and photographic noise at all costs. Just because a photo is published does not mean it is actually good. It is published because it is used as a support for a written article or because a photographer needs to fill some empty space.

Learn how to judge photos. This is extremely important for your creativity.

To define your photographic approach, analyze yourself and look for inspiration without copying and pasting photographs.

A good photographic approach allows you to create photos for a specific use. As you do this again and again, your photos will become interesting and unique. They will make sense. You will be identifiable. Finally, you will become quite popular and your voice will stand out from the crowd.

Case Study: A Masterpiece Photo for an Exhibition

Marsh of Beaugeay in Charente-Maritime in France. Created as a master piece for an exhibition. Photographie créée pour un livre. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer arstist.
Marsh of Beaugeay in Charente-Maritime in France. Created as a master piece for an exhibition.

In the previous paragraphs, I explained that if you want to create interesting photos that make sense and look like you, you must do it for a specific purpose. I advised you to define your photographic why and your photographic approach.

These two tools are absolutely necessary. I will now give you a concrete example of the precise use of a photo. It is a personal example.

In 2010, a town hall commissioned me to create an exhibition of 20 photos to showcase the natural wonders of a region. It was my first institutional commission. I worked for six months to create these 20 photos which were placed in a book. 1000 copies were published.

This was my first experience as a photographic artist.

My experience in creating an exhibition was limited. I had informed myself as much as possible, but I had forgotten one essential element: the masterpiece.

The masterpiece is a photo introducing an exhibition. It is the one that will appear on the advertising flyers, on the cover of the book. It is the one that will attract attention.

It was the curator of the exhibition who pointed out to me that all the photos were consistent with the theme of the exhibition but none of them stood out as the pièce de résistance.

What else could I do but return to the field with my photographic equipment, determine to create this famous photo.

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It took me almost eight days to make it. It was beautiful. Everyone who laid eyes on it agreed that it was unforgettable. She received nothing but praise. But when I looked back 10 years later, I realized that I had only sold that photo once. Why? Simply because this photo had a specific use: to introduce an exhibition. Many people found it beautiful, but only one person found it suitable for his living space. That is the way things are. Every photograph serves an irreplaceable purpose.

After all these years of work I have learned the lesson well. I hope that this example has helped you to better understand what I am talking about.


If you need to retain the essential points of this article, remember that each photograph must be made for a particular purpose if it is to be interesting and meaningful.

If you understand this truth, you will fully blossom in your position as a photographer, and you will craft one-of-a-kind photographic creations because you will have the ability to identify and please your audience.

The two best tools at your disposal are your photographic why and your photographic approach.

Do not waste time chasing after multiple versions of yourself. Respect the photographic goals you have set for yourself. You deserve the best in this world, and your photographs and work should illuminate that.

If you have any doubts or if you have some difficulties to achieve your goals, keep in mind that my photo workshops were created to help you. I am here if you need me.

Be humble, patient, constant, persevering, and persistent because the road to excellence is long.

I Want to Help You to Create Interesting Photos