How to Choose a Photography Subject

When asking how to choose a strong photography subject, what we’re really wanting to know is what makes one subject more interesting than another and how we can control that.

Some photography subject matter virtually yells out at us “Look at me!” It could be a person with an interesting face, a unique piece of architecture, a fleetingly beautiful cloud formation at sunset, or a brilliantly colored insect.

Other photography subject choices may not be as glaringly obvious, yet we can employ our tools and techniques as photographers to make almost anything a strong photography subject.

The Importance of a Subject In Photography

For the most part, art is about the subject. A lot of other choices also factor in, such as the medium of the artwork, the mood, the presentation, but having a subject is just about as basic as one could get in art.

Photographic art is no different. A strong photography subject is often the cornerstone of how we build our creative process. Interestingly, we can enhance a subject by  employing all of our other tools of photography. By doing so, we can sometimes create a photography subject virtually out of nothing at all.

Creative composition techniques can create or enhance a photography subject. Exposure adjustments to highlight or obscure light or shadow, posing, controlling depth of field for deep or shallow focus depth, motion, blur, color, and negative space can all be used to change or make subject matter.

But having a subject already there for us to work with is a generally accepted early step in choosing a strong photography subject. We’ll refer back to the above paragraph as we pick some good examples of subjects in photography.

Photography Subjects for Beginners

Here is your new digital camera, fully equipped with a decent lens, waiting on you for some input. Where are you going to find a strong subject for photos? Why not start at home?

If you looked twice at some things, you could easily find many photography subjects at home. It’s that looking twice bit that occasionally throws us off.

As an example, you know your dog pretty well. Take a moment to look at Astro with your photographic eye. In other words, look for a perspective that tells us about the pet. A low angle may emphasize the power or regal splendor of your furry friend. Works for cats, rats, and turtles, too.

These ideas work for imaging your spouse or kids, also. When looking at your photography subject with an eye for imaging, try to think of what your finished image could tell a viewer about them. Turn one image into a story.

This will transform your photography subject that is already interesting to you into a source of communication concerning goals, ideas,  emotions, and the like. You can change your subject into a strong subject for photos with this method.

Posing Can Make a Difference

being told. Simple posing tricks can help us show them to others as a strong subject for photos.

One trick is to have the person face somewhere else besides right at the camera. Your child going to school in the morning might flash you a smile that will make your heart melt, but to others viewing the image they’re just another cute kid.

Pose that same kid so that they are on a Rule of Thirds line and gazing out to the bright distance and suddenly you are telling a story of hope and wonder and a bright future. Similar ideas can work for other people you know well. See their story and then find a way to pose and position them to tell that story.

Other Photography Subjects At Home

Lots of us grow flowers at home. Even apartment dwellers do. The average snapshot of a flower may seem rather cliche, but a well arranged image becomes a strong subject for photos. Use of exposure tricks and selective focus can do that for us.

An exposure  trick that makes a strong subject out of an ordinary one is lighting and exposing to isolate the main subject. Using a flower as our example, arrange the plant so that you can get the subject closer to the camera than to the background and carefully position the light to fall on the flower and not the background.

Side lighting, split lighting, and rim lighting are some portrait lighting techniques that will work for this. Since you will be focusing fairly close, the background may even be blurred, which further isolates the flower, making it a stronger photography subject.

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