Why and How Using a Method to Create Interesting Photos - Part 1
When I create a series of photographs for clients or photographic projects, I leave little room for chance. Over the years, I have developed a process that I strictly adhere to. If the chance comes in, it's only for creativity. I believe that a good working methodology promotes better creativity.
Table of Contents
Creating Interesting Photos is Difficult
As I wrote in the article about the difficulty of creating interesting photos, millions of photos are created every day and very few are interesting. The photographs presented are often discovered through a simple click of a camera or smartphone. Indeed, photographers do not think of creating a picture while thinking about the construction of the scene. They are often content to apply the rule of thirds when they know it will balance the compositions.
For many photographers, photography is a way to memorize moments and memories. For them, photography is just a medium for sharing through social networks. For a small number of photographers, photography has become a true medium of artistic expression as I have discussed in this article.
For me, photography is a way to express myself, to show my vision of the world and how I live each day. That is why I have defined my own artistic approach.
When I use the word “difficult” to create pictures of nature, I suggest that it takes a lot of effort. It can even be an ordeal.
The Definition of an Interesting Photo
For me, an interesting photograph must possess several of the following qualities:
- It must arouse interest at first glance.
- It is technically well-constructed.
- It delivers a message, a feeling or an emotion that will hold the attention of an audience.
- It arouses curiosity for more.
- The audience desires to dwell on it further, by contemplating its meaning.
- The audience desires to know how the photographer discovered the shot.
- Through the photographer’s creativity, the viewer can imagine that he made the photograph himself.
- It can cause excitement in an audience.
- It must be exciting enough for the audience to decipher its construction or its message. The audience must take the time to study it.
- It can captivate through its individuality.
The opposite of an interesting photograph is a boring, insignificant, insipid photo that has no interest in creativity. It can also be poor, that is, technically speaking.
In the rest of the article, I shall suggest by the word "interesting" all these points which I have just mentioned, even if they are only binding on me. Indeed, other people could give a definition of an interesting photograph. But I chose this framework because it is sufficiently formal for my approach.
Descriptive Photos and Artistic Photos
Photography can be divided into two main approaches: descriptive photography and artistic photography.
Descriptive photography is a report, for example, descriptive facts, wildlife naturalism. It is intended to provide factual evidence. I often call this type of photography, “illustrative photography”.
Artistic photography is the photography of emotion. Through emotional photography, the photographer reveals his hidden feelings. Artistic photography also has many disciplines. I will come back to this topic in a future article.
A photographer must be able to locate his photographic approach in one of the two approaches. It is a very important introspection that must be carried out either by a personal analysis or by an outside person. For example, I organize analytical photography courses that allow photographers to accurately define their vision of photography. It takes very specific tools to perform this analysis in the best conditions and not to be mistaken. Indeed, all the characterization of the photographic approach depends on this analysis.
The two photographic approaches are interesting. However, a photographer can find himself in both according to his activities. For my part, I practiced illustrative photography when I worked for magazines or photo agencies. After ten years, I chose artistic photography with a passion because it corresponded exactly to my deepest aspirations.
Having a Clear Vision of Photographic Style
The first step to making interesting photographs is to define a very clear photographic style. This is also called the “photographic approach” or “the photographic vision”.
Following the photographic analysis, which will culminate in the well-defined development of a style, the photographer will have all the elements to create photographs that connect his character and passion to the messages he wants to transmit to his audience.
The photographic style is what one can call “personal photographic writing”.
For a photographer, the photographic technique can be considered as the “spelling and grammar rules” of a spoken or written language. One can also make this analogy with music. The musician has notes and rules for writing a score, just like a photographer has rules when shooting photos.
The photographic style is how a photographer will use all the technical elements at his disposal to create his own photographs. The techniques are all well-known and well-defined. But just like a written language, it is the way of using these elements which makes the number of possibilities infinite. It is through this process that the creativity of the photographer will be expressed.
Thinking Only of Technique is a Serious Error
I often say during my training sessions that although technique is essential, it is not what it makes pictures interesting. By choosing elements to assemble, the photographer alone can make the photos beautiful and interesting. He alone provides the magical touch.
I often meet excellent photography technicians who know all the techniques like HDR, zooming, panning, time-lapse, bokeh. They also know the best software for editing, correction or photo editing. But their pictures can be banal and provide the viewers with little interest. The reason is simple. These photographers do not have a photographic signature. They did not complete an analysis. They did not take the time to ask how all their tools could help them.
Photographic tools are not an end in themselves. They are only present to help a photographer develop his creativity and unique style. A photographer must learn to put photographic tools at the service of his personal expression.
I also meet photographers who make illusions during a series or a few pictures. These people have a very strong personal creativity. Naturally, they have the qualities to express certain messages or certain emotions. But might not know technique. Quickly and consistently, they produce identical content without refreshing themselves. They become annoying. The series follow one another and resemble each other without generating the novelty as one would expect from a creative person. But the most serious thing is that after a few months, or years perhaps, photography tires them because they cannot renew themselves. They eventually abandon the field of photography by moving to another area where they will repeat the same mistake. For me, it is certainly a most tragic defeat, because I see genuine talents disappearing into the limbo of ignorance.
The technique is a necessary condition to discover long-term interesting photos while developing its creativity through photographic style. Yet, it is not enough. A working method is also needed. When photography techniques and a method of working based on creativity are met, a photographer becomes interesting because he produces long-term projects that are constantly renewed, fully expressing his emotions, feelings, and soul.