Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

:iconmyraincheck: More from myraincheck

Featured in Collections

Journals by pavboq

Gallery by Batsceba

Journals News by Ikarisou

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
July 2, 2013
Submitted with Writer


80 (who?)

Stop taking boring photos!

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 5:32 AM
If you like what you read, please :+favlove: this article so it reaches more deviants

An extract from Tony Ray Jones's… notebook contains some interesting tips to take better street photos:

:bulletred:       BE MORE AGGRESSIVE



:bulletred:      TAKE SIMPLER PICTURES




:bulletred:       DON'T TAKE BORING PICTURES

:bulletred:       GET IN CLOSER (USE 50mm LESS)

:bulletred:       WATCH CAMERA SHAKE (shoot 250sec or above)

:bulletred:       DON'T SHOOT TOO MUCH

:bulletred:       NOT ALL AT EYE LEVEL

:bulletred:       NO MIDDLE DISTANCE

"Don't take boring pictures" is my favorite point.
Why are there boring street photos? Well, mostly because there are some simple or catchy situations that have been photographed countless times, becoming recurrent, redundant, cliché themes. These photos become boring because they look all the same, they don't add anything new or original to the theme, they have been seen over and over again. Sometimes they are uninteresting because there is no thought behind them.

A few examples of overdone street photos?

Beggars begging and homeless sleeping: they have been photographed countless times. Alone or with people passing by, showing indifference. Many times juxtaposed with a symbol of consumerism or occidental society (Cartier, Mc Donald's and so on). There are countless reiterations of this kind of photos in the net.
By now the beggars on Charles Bridge in Prague must have more fashion books than the best paid models in the world.
The fact is that taking photos of a person sitting still, facing the ground, is not that challenging, it is way too easy.
Not to mention that taking photos of people sleeping or too wasted to notice or care of what you are is a bit like picking on the weakest. Take aim at the easy target. 'Shooting at the Red Cross' as we say in italian. Well, you got it.
There are of course exceptions. Photos where more than one layer conveys a message, photos from where you don't get the feeling of having stepped on a person's dignity. See:

hungry by SimonSawSunlight

People photographed from the back:
Shooting from the back has the advantage to avoid contact with your subjects, and to sneak on their back without being seen. It is also the best recipe for boring pictures.  Backs aren't very expressive, nor especially interesting to look at. If you take photos from the back, do it with a meaning, do it because that angle is the best way to convey the message of your photo (I am NOT talking of women's butts here). See:


Pigeons: did you know that there are 310 species of it? Browse street photos for a while and you'll know them all. Pigeons make for catchy images with kids chasing after them, they give some dynamism to the image flying around.  But, come on, who doesn't have a memory photo as a kid chasing after pigeons in a square? We all have. That's the point. See:

The Birds II by pariah87

Upside-down shadows:
Shadows offer countless chances for good photos. They can be tricky, surreal, puzzling, revealing, hiding, distorting. Without necessarily being upside-down. If the trick of flipping a photo upside down is the only thing that makes the'll just have a boring photo upside-down. See:

Double size by MirabellaStefano

"Wait for the rain, it makes shooting on the street easier and more interesting." - Martin Parr
The hard truth is that we can't all be Martin Parr. Wonderful photos can be taken in the rain, as the rain can create an exhilarating, thrilling atmosphere, and as umbrellas can form interesting patterns or splashes of color. So, there really is no need to make always the same rainy photo featuring a central composition with a person in the middle of a path/road/street in the middle of the frame, photographed from the back while walking under the umbrella... See:

Yellow Umbrella by pwillyams

Couple kissing, good looking women. Nothing wrong with them. I am just jealous :lol: Though it is not easy to avoid cliché photos with these subjects.

People passing in front of signs or posters or graffiti.
Well, let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Who did never give in to the temptation of a catchy juxtaposition of person + billboard? Though not always the combination people + poster works. Let's aim a bit higher and at least capture the right person at the right moment passing in front of the right poster. I mean, the poster isn't going anywhere, so it really is just a matter of patience and thinking. See:

Fly fly away.. by straightfromcamera

That said...'Never ignore a cliché'! (Artem Zhitenev) still applies.
I'd never renounce to take a potential good photo just because it was taken countless times before. I'd never renounce to take a potential good photo, period. There always are exceptions to the rule, and also a cliché photo can be beautiful, iconic, full of imagery. 

DISCLAIMER: This journal is meant to provoke thoughts and not specific persons!

Run by Vermontster

** by stringoiu

40 by sevron

you and me by Batsceba

amazed - color street by fabrizzialex

Blues brothers by wheeler-photographic

Brothers by DougNZ

Add a Comment:
holavengoaflotar Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thank you :)
marius1956 Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Well put !!! THANKS1
Sakura219 Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
ScottMan2th Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
i admit that a lot of photographs in print are dull, boring and staged...what is worse is that the technical aspect of capturing an image seems to be an afterthought for most and the over reliance on photographic retouching programs has become a crutch rather than a tool to fix minor problems. Taking a thousand random photos without thinking might render ten, maybe fifteen excellent photos...a professional will do much better than this (obviously) and since camera phones are now ubiquitous everyone considers themselves a street photographer looking for the gritty realism that has jaded so many or being present at a tragedy and as a means of making a profit. not all photos need to be shocking, vulgar, or offensive to get a point across. Images that are honest, and provoke thought are what seep into the brain and make a least for me.
Karolusdiversion Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
Being aware that 99.99% of the photographs circulating in the world are boring (at least for me), I wonder why there are so many photographers in the world.
As, with a brush in hand, we are not Leonardo, so, with a camera, we are not all photographers.
Result: boring photos, unoriginal, technically imperfect, etc.. But we are not obliged to look at what we do not like. ;)
BamboozledPanda Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
Otherwise this article is quite helpful.
myraincheck Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
thank you for reading
BamboozledPanda Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
Well '"talking to the people" part is one huge problem for me. Being an introvert is a small drawback in my case.
Though it's quite exciting to think how photography can make me meet new people everyday. But on streets my mind often holds me back.
lightdrafter Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013
welcome to the world of stalkers.. :) If my girl did not forced me I would go weeks without talking.. :D
myraincheck Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
I never talk with the people I photographed :D Neither before nor after.
Add a Comment: