How to Take an Interesting Photo

Share this:

“How do I take a photo that is interesting to look at?” a good friend asked me the other day. “Is it the lighting?” he continued. “Or is it the subject?”

Good lighting and an intriguing subject are undoubtedly essential elements to create interest in a photo. However, even a professionally lit scene with a great subject can look uninspiring. Why? The reason may lie in its complexity.

When we look at a picture, our eyes wander. They examine every object, the foreground, the background, the colors, and pass this information to our brain that looks for patterns and compares them with our experience. Our brain tries to make sense of it all. Sometimes, it exhausts us to process all the information because there is too much going on in the picture. We give up and move on.

Complexity can tire us and reduce our interest in a photo. Conversely, simplicity draws our eyes into the picture. Simplicity makes it easy for our eyes to examine the scene and for our brain to process it. Thus, the image becomes more interesting.

Photographers have two tools at their disposal to simplify their photos:

  • Declutter: Remove all items that do not contribute meaningfully to the central message of your image. If you are in a studio, this may be easier than outside. However, when I photograph buildings, I often remove distracting power lines, garbage cans, or graffiti later on in Photoshop.
  • Move parts of your picture out-of-focus: A shallow depth of field blurs certain parts of your image. It only leaves the in-focus areas sharp, drawing your viewer’s eyes to them.
Share this: