While most of my assignments offer a unique experience that others rarely have, there are the few assignments that just kill me. I'm talking bore me to death, I can't find a great photo anywhere agony. Let's use this recent small-town weekly newspaper assignment, which had me photographing recently restored buildings at the local historical Alviso Adobe Park in Milpitas, California.
For some reason, editors and city officials love simple and clean photos showcasing big-dollar, restored, historical buildings. As a photojournalist whose work is centralized around people and the human element, this photo – while perfectly fine – is blah!
The Alviso Adobe home photographed at Alviso Adobe Park in Milpitas, California, on March 19, 2013. (Stan Olszewski/SOSKIphoto)
Keep reading after the break to learn five tips to spice up boring photos.
While making basic photos like the one above are essential to show your editor, there are at least five ways we can make this photo more interesting:
1. Shoot at sunrise or sunset to have more interesting light and skies. Blue skies are more interesting than white skies. Golden, sculpting, light with shadows is more interesting than flat, white, light. Unfortunately, shooting at sunrise or sunset was not possible with the timeline and deadline of this assignment.
2. Add a foreground element. Have something in front of the lens to create depth, layers, and initial interest. Look to add relative elements, leading lines, contrasting colors, reflections, etc.
The Alviso Adobe Park front gate sign adds a simple touch in the foreground to establish location of the building.
3. Shoot through a natural frame. Finding a frame to shoot through is a simple yet effective way to create more layers, depth, and interest to your photos.
The dark tree frames the historic house at Alviso Adobe Park. The frame adds depth and focuses the viewer's attention to the house.
4. Add the human element. Including a person or abstract of a person will always make your photos more interesting. As humans, we are interested in and look for other humans in photos.
A lady walking through the frame is enough to grab your attention and show the scale of the building.
5. Look for an interesting detail. Shapes, color, texture, symmetry. Whatever it is, photograph it.
Alviso Adobe Park is brand new. It's a historical visiting park, not a playground park, meaning there is not much happening. Adding a detail of the storage shed's freshly painted garage and rain drainage pipe is interesting and simple.
Next time you encounter a boring scene, be sure to pull these five tips out of your back pocket to make your dull photos more interesting. Not only will you feel more pleased with yourself, you will wow your editors and clients.
Do you have any other tips to spicing up boring photos? If so, please share them in the comments below!