How to Spot Good Subjects to Photograph

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When you’re choosing a subject for your photography, it’s essential to find something that is both interesting and has some meaning. This can be a person, animal or object.

To get good photos, look for patterns, shapes and angles in the subject’s environment. Then try composing the shot around those elements.

1. Look for Patterns

The best way to spot good subjects to photograph is by training your eye to notice patterns, both natural and manmade. Patterns are repeating elements in the scene, like lines, shapes, colors and textures.

They are pleasing to the eye and can be used to make your images look more interesting. They are also great for drawing the viewer’s attention, as they can make your photo appear more familiar or even create a sense of story.

A simple way to look for patterns is to simply take a moment and peer around you, whether it’s in your home or the city. Think about the repetition you see in everyday objects, such as windows on a building or bricks on a wall.

Another way to find pattern in the environment is to search for recurring elements in your surroundings, such as staircases or railings. You can also look for leading lines that draw the viewer’s eye toward a certain area of the frame, such as roads, train tracks or the side of a building.

One thing to keep in mind is that you can sometimes break the pattern by using something different in your composition, such as a horizon line or the background. For example, Lissa Evans shot this fence with regular, repeated patterns but framed it to focus on the broken part of the pattern.

You can also find great patterns in the nature that surrounds you, such as fallen leaves. They can be used as a backdrop for portraits or as a way to add texture to your images. You can even use fungi as a subject to capture the unique patterns they have.

2. Look for Shapes

Shapes are a great way to add interest and depth to your images. They can also add a sense of balance and harmony to your compositions.

A good place to start is by looking for basic shapes such as circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles. These are easy to recognize and can create a wide variety of effects in your photography.

For example, circles and ovals are used to build a sense of harmony, while triangles and squares can add a feeling of movement and drama. Vertical lines, on the other hand, can give a photograph a sense of strength and stability.

Another great way to incorporate shapes into your images is by using leading lines. These lines are the natural way that our eyes are drawn to objects, and can help your subject stand out in the frame.

Leading lines are simple, but they can be very effective in directing the viewers’ attention to a particular point of interest (POI) in your image. Lines can be straight, curved, or even abstract. You can use a wide-angle lens to make these lines appear longer, or a telephoto lens to minimise the distance between the POI and the camera.

3. Look for Angles

Using different angles in your photographs can be very effective at improving them. They add interest, variety and make your images stand out from the rest.

Camera angles directly impact the aesthetic and composition of an image, but they also hold significant psychological leverage over a viewer. Taking the time to learn how to use different angles can significantly improve your photography.

There are three types of angles to look out for when you are photographing your subject: low, high and eye-level. Each one has its own distinct characteristics and can be used to highlight important details in your photos.

The first type of angle is low, which can be incredibly dynamic and create a sense of scale in your subject. It elongates lines and figures, making it ideal for flattering clothing shots or action-oriented portraits.

Another type of angle is high, which accentuates the face and makes it appear slimmer. It’s a popular technique in serious portrait photography and is often used when shooting small children or pets.

Alternatively, you could try shooting from an overhead perspective, which can help flatten your subjects and emphasize their lines and shapes. This is a great technique for food and still-life flatlays, as well as for creating graphic compositions.

4. Look for Movement

Motion is one of the most compelling parts of photography, and it can add a lot to your photos. It can convey feelings and moods, as well as give your images a dynamic and energetic feel.

When it comes to capturing movement, there are several different techniques you can use. You can freeze movement, create abstract images using panning or physically change the focal length of your lens during long exposures.

Capturing a person’s movement can be an excellent way to capture the fun and excitement of life, from the jubilance of a child jumping, dancing, or sledding, to the thrill of a skateboarder whizzing across the snow. Whether you choose to shoot people in action, or more abstract subjects such as falling leaves and clouds, movement will give your shots life and make them stand out from the crowd.

The exact method you choose will depend on the goal for your photograph, but there are a few common ways to incorporate movement into your work:

Freeze Movement

When you want to freeze movement, you need to use a shutter speed that is high enough to “freeze” the action. A good rule of thumb is to shoot above 1/1000 sec. This is the safest speed to use, but it will depend on how fast your subject is moving, so always experiment with it first!

You can also freeze the motion by panning the camera, following your subject as they move. This will require a bit of practice, but it’s a great way to get creative and unique results. You’ll need to set up with a clear view of your subject and plenty of room for them to swivel on a parallel axis, but the result is a stunning effect that will look amazing in your photographs.

5. Look for Light

When it comes to good photos, there is only one thing that stands above all else: light. Whether your subject is a human, an object or a place, it needs to be illuminated by good light in order to be memorable and evocative to the viewer.

When taking pictures outdoors, look for locations that have good diffused lighting. These can be trees or buildings that have wide spreads of branches, allowing sunlight to fall through. This will help you capture evenly lit images without having to use flashes.

For indoor shots, it’s also a good idea to find a window or door that offers good diffused lighting. This will help you capture evenly exposed images that show beautiful skin tones.

You may need to move things around a bit to get the perfect lighting for your photos, but the effort is worth it! Try a 365 photography challenge or take a weekly photo walk to practice finding great subjects and light.

Finally, consider the angle that you’re going to be shooting your subject from. It’s important to have your subject face the direction of the light source, avoiding harsh shadows that will be distracting and unflattering.

The angle of light can create a dramatic feel to your images, as well as accentuate the shapes of your subject. This can be accomplished by backlighting, where the subject is illuminated from behind, or side lighting, where the subject is positioned in front of the light source.

It’s important to remember that light doesn’t always follow a predictable pattern, so it’s helpful to know how the weather affects it before you go out into the field. By learning to use natural light in a creative way, you can create a powerful image that will leave the viewer emotionally invested.


Ash has been into cameras and photography for over 40 years, with 10 of those years as a professional photographer. His passion is to constantly strive to create better images and to pass on his knowledge to other budding photographers.

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