Same Old, Same Old!
Do you ever look at your shots and say: “meh… same old boring stuff”? Or maybe, you look at photos in magazines, and you wonder: “what makes them so interesting”? “Why are my photos so boring?” is one of the questions we get asked the most on our photo adventures. After observing the behavior of hundreds of people, I will share with you what I believe to be the three reasons why your photographs are so dull.
Lack of Education
Most people don’t know much about photography. If your photos are boring, chances are: you’re one of them. Get an education! Learn to recognize what will constitute the potential for a quality photograph when it crosses your path. If you want to create good photos, first of all, you must know what a good photo is.
You may ask: “what makes a good photograph”? Photography is a form of art, so this question is subject to personal judgment. There is no right or wrong in this never ending debate. There are, however, general rules or guidelines. Over the course of history, humankind has established standards of aesthetics and studied the sense of beauty in all forms of art. In order to improve, you must explore the art of photography along with its masters.
Don’t be fooled by what “works” on social media though. Most “likes” will go to images of women’s breasts and cute kittens. These “features” alone, you will surely concede, cannot be a pledge of quality. You will have to look elsewhere. Do the research! On the internet, at your local library, or in a bookshop. Study the classical masters and follow the contemporary greats.
Don’t just scan their work as you would an Instagram feed! Pause for a while on each masterpiece. Take time to analyze. Ask yourself: what makes that photo so damn good? How can I achieve the same results? And even what would I do differently?
Lack of Commitment
Did you think you could just click and go? You capture a half decent shot—now you put your camera away for the next few weeks. I have bad news for you! Mastering the art of photography won’t happen overnight. It requires time, consistency and persistence. If you want to create interesting photographs, you ought to be committed.
Many people think they can buy talent. Like those who purchase a gym membership yet never bother to lift any weight. It’s not that easy. Those magic electric machines you see on TV: they just don’t work. You have to break a sweat, push yourself outside your comfort zone, think outside your little box and stick to a daily diet of shutter clicks.
Also, you must stay hungry for knowledge of the Arts. Not only should you study photography, but also watch relevant films, be curious about painting, read novels and study all forms of art.
While you’re at it, familiarize yourself with your camera. There is no need to know each and every piece of machinery. Instead, you should get a feel for it. Your camera will become an extension of your arm. You must know how it behaves, how it reacts to light. What’s good for the eye is not necessarily suitable for the lens and vice-versa.
Lack of Awareness
Do you pay attention to your environment, to the things happening around you? How often do you pause and scan what you’re seeing? Few do this naturally, yet this should become regular practice for you. Lost in our thoughts, most of us only walk from point A to point B without awareness. Learn to watch.
So many times, during our photo adventures, I had to remind people to pay attention. I say, “See, you missed a great moment right here!” How come they didn’t see it unfold? Well, sometimes people chat about the shots they’ve taken in the past or the ones they hope to capture in the future. At other times, they are staring at the screen at the back of their cameras—frantically pressing the zoom button to peep at the pixels and make sure it’s sharp (as if that was the most important thing). Every time they are not in the present moment—unaware of their surroundings.
The small details are what separates a good photo from a great one. Be patient and observe. “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” they say. Will you see the opportunity if it comes to you?
Creating interesting photos require knowledge, time and skill. The shot of the year will not come to your door so grab your camera and take it for a stroll. Follow the footsteps of Daido Moriyama and trust your guts like a stray dog. Don’t blame yourself though: 99% of the photos we take lack that little “je ne sais quoi”. Once, someone said to me: “A great photograph must please the eyes, the mind and the heart”. Remember that one next time you fire!