To impress… literally means to IMPRESS (leave an indentation) upon someone else. I think what we are trying to do as photographers is to impress our viewers. Not necessarily to “show off”– but we are trying to make an impact on our viewers. Therefore it is essential for us to impress our viewers with our photos. But how do impress others with our pictures, and make a meaningful impact on our viewers? Some simple ideas:
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1. Eye contact
To make more impactful or impressive photos, take photos in which the subject of your photo is looking directly at you (the photographer).
You can do this by taking lots of pictures and waiting until your subject perceives your presence, and then taking photos when that happens. Or interacting with your subject, and engaging them– and intentionally trying to get eye contact. For example like the photo below of my mom getting an eye examination — I just asked her to look directly at me (or into the lens):
Make photos that evoke some sort of stress or anxiety in your viewer. You can do this by taking pictures that show human emotion via hand-gestures or body language:
You can also make an impression on your viewer if you make a picture that is surreal — for example, a face without eyes. Or a body without a head:
This is why I like street photography; some of the most impressive street photos are surreal.
4. Unusual perspectives
To make an impression on your viewer, shoot from super-low angles, or super high angles. The human eye isn’t accustomed to seeing these novel views/perspectives.
I like shooting pictures that have distortion, like shooting with the 28mm RICOH GR II in macro mode with my subjects, with a flash– because it creates a distorted picture. The human world doesn’t see the world distorted. But distorted pictures are more interesting to look at.
Flash is also surreal, because flash creates surreal effects, which we don’t see in the world.
Therefore experiment shooting with a flash to create a stronger impression on your viewer.
Also, shoot through blurred surfaces to obscure your pictures. More obscurity is difficult to read– which means your viewer is more likely to spend more time trying to understand your pictures or what they’re looking at.
Often creating a photograph that is too interpretable is bad. A photo which is too obvious is boring to look at.
We don’t see see the world blurred. Thus it is more interesting to look at, and impressive.
9. Black and white
Monochrome is more impressive because we don’t see the world in black and white. Thus it is more surreal and interesting to look at.
10. Put yourself in the picture
By shooting your subject (and selfie) in the same picture, you “break the third wall”; it reminds the viewer that, “Oh yeah– a real photographer actually shot this!”
And it ain’t enough to just put yourself in the picture; embed your soul into your picture.
Conclusion: Just shoot it
You never know if you’ll shoot a good picture UNTIL you attempt and take a picture.
So when in doubt,
JUST SHOOT IT.
Then curate your portfolio later, and choose the pictures which are meaningful to you.