Photography Friday: 6 Tips for Choosing the Best Photography Subjects

Sometimes photographers feel like they need to travel to exotic places or meet famous people to have a worthwhile subject for their photography. The reality is, there are great subjects all around for the creative photographer.

Here are six tips to get you thinking about how to choose your next photography subject:

Man Running on Beach
California surfer at sunset. 1/3200 sec at f/2.8

1. Find something you are interested in

One of the things I love about photography is that it incorporates so many other fields. Most of the time, having knowledge of your subject allows you to take a better photo. The more you learn, the more powerful or insightful your photographs can be. For example, I love the beach and photographing at the beach. Having spent so much time there, I know the best spot to photograph surfers depending on the swell direction. I know based on the shape and spread of the clouds in the afternoon if there will be an amazing sunset in the evening. I know where the dolphins like to play on the beach I grew up at. I love the beach and it makes me a better photographer of beach stuff. You are more likely to get great photos of something you are already interested in or are in the process of learning about, whether you’re photographing landscapes, people or products.

2. Find something you have experience in

Most of us photographers either have a day job, previously worked in another field or studied something different in school. At the very least, we have parents and siblings with different careers that we know a lot about. Leverage this knowledge and experience to make great photos. Maybe you worked at a hotel and have access and knowledge that allows you to get a behind the scenes look at the hospitality industry. Maybe you took a class in cake decorating and know how to photograph a cake to show off the most complicated parts of a cake decoration. Whatever your experience is, use it.

3. Find someone with a specific interest

If you can’t think of your own specific interest, find someone else who has one. Maybe your best friend loves golfing. You can have he or she educate you on the game of golf and tell you what kind of photos would be interesting or compelling. Perhaps they can get you access to a course or a set of clubs to use in your photo. Once you find out what golf balls are made of you can cut one open and photograph what you find inside. And your friend will be much more likely to want to be photographed doing something they love than sitting for a plain portrait.

This guy has a unique look.

4. Find someone with a unique look

We all know somebody that looks just a little bit different from the crowd. Maybe it’s because they style their hair in a cool way. Maybe they have an interesting wardrobe. Maybe they have a unique mix of races. Something as simple as a one-of-a-kind look can make for an interesting photo.

5. Find something rarely photographed

Think about the objects around you. Have you ever seen a photograph of those things? Have you seen a photo of them from up close? From far away? Maybe the object you have chosen is photographed often but rarely photographed with a macro lens for detail. People or animals that are rarely photographed are also great subjects because they give the viewer a glimpse of something they don’t always see.

6. Find something available

Finally, the very best subject is the one that is available. Find someone or something that is around you and easy to photograph. You may be surprised at how awesome of a photo you can make with something that seems ordinary to you, with just a little creative lighting. You’ll never know until you actually click that shutter.

How do you choose your subjects? 

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