Are you an artist with a camera or are you just a person who takes good photos? I’m writing this post for all the many people I meet that ask “how can I get my photos to look better?” And the answer is not to buy a better camera or a more expensive lens. Although buying better equipment does give you certain advantages it doesn’t make your images more interesting. That’s right… it doesn’t add one interesting thing to your photos and that is the answer. If you want photos that have a “wow factor” you need to create it.
Let’s just say for an example that a person goes to a birthday party with their camera and captures images of the party. The photos are all in focus and the lighting is good, but… well, they are just snapshots. There is no “wow” factor to the images. However if the person used rules of composing like leading lines and the rule of thirds they might have made the images more interesting. Changing angles and perspective can make an image more interesting too. The afore mentioned ideas are all easy tools to use and anyone from novice to pro could apply them. As a matter of fact a pro would apply them.
Second example I will use is; in my local area there are some old grist mills that provide a picturesque setting and a glimpse back in to the days of yesteryear. And of course people come from far and wide to try their hand at capturing a great image of an old mill. But for the most part all the photos look the same, there are just a few different spots to stand that give you a good view and where you can place a tripod. Then of course you also have tourists who are walking around the mill and they don’t look so pleasing in your photo. I’m at a friend’s house and I see pictures on her wall of the all the old mills in our area and I ask how did you get these images, they all look so awesome? One image had a beautiful long exposure effect on the sky and the water and another had a foggy mist all around the mill, but no tourists. She says “oh it’s very easy, just go there at daybreak.” Duh… Why didn’t I think of that!
So these are just two examples of you the photographer having the power to “create” rather than just taking a snapshot. And sometimes it is not as hard as it sounds. I equate it to a magic trick and we have all seen a trick performed and we try our hardest to figure out how the trick is done. Then if we are showed how the trick is done we realize it is not that hard at all and many times (not all) photography can be same. Not a trick of course, but just easy to do if we take the time to learn a few simple rules and put forth a little effort, after all nothing in life is easy and nothing is truly free.
For a third example I will use the power of editing software and I really do have to include software in the topic because post capture editing is something that is now available to anybody. In today’s photography world we all have the power to edit our images, even our phone cameras give us options for editing and most images that have the “wow” factor have some form of editing done to them and I’m not talking about full on editing using Photoshop, it can be just a cropping, sharpness or color correction. Sometimes “rule of thirds” plays a powerful part in the way the human eye perceives the image and just a minor cropping could make all the difference in the world between a snapshots and “I’ll hang this on my wall.”
So for my examples I have included two simple images from my own birthday party. I thought it would be interesting to capture the cake from the point of view a child would see it. The table is higher than most, you have to sit on stools, so a child would see the cake from this point of view. I also waited till Patty was placing a candle to show human interaction. Then there is the unplanned beer bottle and wine glass in the background. Then I used a “cross processed” editing technique that gave a truer feel than what the camera captured. I made the glow of the candles look like what I was seeing at the time I shot it.
The second image was taken looking over Patty’s shoulder as she was lighting the candles and again I used the cross processed look to keep the images consistently the same because they were shot just moments apart.
Would I hang these images on my wall? Probably not, but I would add them to my screen saver or digital photo frame. So I challenge all my novice photographer readers to take the time to make a one interesting image with whatever camera you have. FYI: these images were made with a Canon G-15 point & shoot (my wife’s camera) and the edits were done in Adobe Lightroom 6, no Photoshop at all. Editing time: 20 seconds per image.