Here are some tips on how to make good photos:
Good vs perfection
I don’t think perfect exists. GOOD exists.
Good photos: good composition, good emotion, good soul. Good photos are not pretentious. Good photos uplift your mood. Good photos release your stress. Good photos are worth sharing.
PERFECTION is a fake concept. Nothing can be objective ‘perfect’. Would you ever call a tree perfect? Or would you call a certain car design perfect? Or would you ever call a song, album, or film perfect?
Perfection is for suckers. Perfectionists often do nothing. They have this grand idea of perfection — which paralyzes them. They don’t do nothing, because they are afraid of failure. They are afraid of finishing anything that is short of perfect.
My philosophy has always been the 80% rule. 80% “good enough” and just hit publish. And each time I publish something new, I try to make it 3% better than I’ve done in the past. Kind of what I do at the gym with deadlifts— each week I just try to add 2.5-5 pounds. And over 10 years, I have been able to increase my deadlift from 135 to 405 pounds.
How to make good photos
Some good tips:
1. Good composition
- Clean edges of the frame: Subtract distractions from the edge of your frame.
- Fewer subjects: Focus on a single subject, don’t try to do this fancy Alex Webb styled, multi-layer subjects. Keep it simple.
- Fewer colors: Have a simpler color palette. Fewer colors. Or better yet, no colors at all — just monochrome. Stick with different shades of black, white, and grey. Simplify — too many colors or hues will ruin your images.
2. Good emotion
Good emotion is:
- Photos that provoke an emotion in your viewer: Photos that aren’t boring. Photos that make your viewer feel something.
- Photos that make you feel emotional. For example, when you look at your own photo, do you feel your own photo?
- Hand gestures and eye gestures: Try to capture emotion in your photos by the posture of your subject. How they hold their hands on their hips, their face, or their chin.
3. Good soul
Good soul in photos:
- Photos that speak to your soul: Photos that uplift your mood, worldview, and perspective.
- Photos that show your perspective of the world: Photos that aren’t pretentious. Photos that show your subjective view of the world. Photos that could only be shot by you.
- Photos that meditate on life and death: Photos of your loved ones, joy, sadness— good times, and bad. Photos that show the human condition — your emotional condition, and your feelings.
GOOD, not perfect should be our mantra in photography.
We can all strive for GOOD. Then, try to do things that are ‘damn good.’
GOOD photos are self-directed, and less about pleasing others— more about making yourself happy with your own photography.
And remember, the purpose of photography is to live a good life.
Do you photograph to live, or live to photograph?
How to make good photos:
Learn more: Photography 101 >