It is every photographer’s ultimate goal to produce images that catch and hold a viewer’s attention. There’s no one best way to go about this; in fact, one of the ways some photographers in recent years have captured viewers’ attention is through highly stylized post-production techniques.
While that approach is as legitimate as any other, the stylized visual tweaks/color schemes in question fall in and out of favor much like fashion trends. You might apply a “washed-out” look to all your photos, but once that aesthetic trend comes to an end, how fondly will your photos be remembered?
Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but rather than relying solely on post-production styles to try to imbue your work with interest, try the following three tried-and-true methods of capturing attention-grabbing photos.
Make Sure Your Composition Is Strong
Composition helps the viewer “read” a photograph — it suggests what elements of a scene to look at and in what order and how to interpret those elements.
When you have a particularly interesting subject to photograph, it should be the center of attention. You can ensure this by employing strong composition techniques.
The specific composition rule you use might depend upon what and where you’re shooting but, regardless of those variables, the constant in your photography should be a demonstrated ability to create a visually compelling image through composition.
Whether you use leading lines or the rule of thirds or juxtaposition, make sure you create an engaging photo.
To be sure, this can be achieved without adhering strictly to traditional composition guidelines; sometimes, following the rules too closely can produce unimaginative images, just as not knowing how to break the rules in a creative manner can lead to indecipherable photos.
Use Light Effectively
Light is absolutely fundamental to photography. But beyond light’s role as a necessary ingredient for the very existence of photography, light also figures prominently in determining the visual impact of any given photo.
It’s not enough to simply obtain a correct exposure for your photo. You have to use light to add life and depth to your subject, to highlight texture, to reveal the beauty that may otherwise go unnoticed.
This means making multiple visits to a location or waiting for a specific time of day to make a photo. It is worth the effort to understand the light and how it can positively impact your work.
Shoot More Selectively
This really comes down to the old adage of quality over quantity. Digital cameras make it amazingly easy to photograph anything we want any time we want. But consider this — amazing photos (and the opportunities to capture them) aren’t a dime a dozen.
You can’t shoot just any random thing, try to fix it up in post and then expect to be applauded for the shot. If you want to create images that hold people’s attention you must be more judicious with what you spend your time capturing.
This doesn’t mean that one category of subject is better than all others — I am simply suggesting that, no matter what you photograph, make sure it means something to you.
Capturing timeless, attention-grabbing photos is a tall task. Not every photo you take is going to live up to the lofty goals you’ve laid out for yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Every photo can’t be a masterpiece. But as you shoot, enjoy the good photos while in pursuit of great ones, and keep the tips above in mind to help keep you on the right track.