10 ways to create bad photographs.

Inspiration, Teaching point

10 ways to create a bad photograph

This is meant to be lighthearted — and instructive 🙂  …Enjoy!



10 ways to create bad photographs.

  1. Shoot from your head, not your heart (if you lack passion, your images will be found lacking).

  2. Shoot by first surrendering your brain (leaving the camera on auto-everything leaves everything to chance).

  3. Shoot without honing (there is no substitute for practice, practice, practice).

  4. Shoot as if your camera is a machine gun (indiscriminately pressing the shutter to photograph everything often captures nothing).

  5. Shoot when the light is un-magical (good light helps all photographs, always!).

  6. Shoot from one spot (don’t work for the shot and the shot will likely not work).

  7. Shoot it all (being overly-inclusive obscures your photographic vision).

  8. Shoot a “postcard” image  (doing what’s been done before often leads to staid shots — try something original and you may be pleasantly surprised).

  9. Shoot with the latest and greatest (frequently “upgrading” equipment frequently downgrades the quality of your output).

  10. Shoot by committee (visiting photography forums for “advice” from people with different experience, needs, expectations, and motives should be done with extreme caution).

8 thoughts on “10 ways to create bad photographs.

  1. All really good points Peter. All things I am conscious of in the back of my mind.

    I have done a few post card shots….guilty 🙂 But overall if it doesn’t resonate with me emotionally then it’s not worthy. I do cross check a few images with other people as well to see if it emits some form of emotional response (a genuine one) beyond a “thats a nice photo of such and such” or with a subject matter in mind, and if so then I’m probably doing something right. If it’s a “take it or leave it” then it’s good feed back as well. I know I need to improve.

    The Daily Inspiration I had on Steve Huff just before christmas was one of those moments. To put myself out there and see if some of my images are progressing to the point that there is some acceptance and feedback amongst other photographers. This is not to fulfil my ego. It was really to take a reading of where I’m at.

    Given where I started and my lack of practise (a key weakness for me), I am happy and feel the next couple of years will be full of opportunities to grow further.

    I recently started following Huges on FB and all I can say Huges….please keep those portraits and images of Paris coming! My mind will tick over; why…why is this shot so effective? etc when I look at yours, Huges, Ashwin’s, Jason, Luiz, etc images.

    Yet none of us can appeal to everyone (including close followers people may have), all the time. The aesthetics of an individual image can change too much from one image to another to make this possible. If someone feels they need to say they “love” each and every image, if it is taken by a particular person then I think it’s going to be tough to start training your eye and raising the bar.

    Your point of changing gear is also very valid today. The speed of technology change and the amount of choice now is astounding. So many people seem to be searching for the holy grail! I am guilty of this as well to a point, though not from the aspect of latest and greatest. More out of ergonomics and finding the right tool that will bring out the best in my photography. Not “the file” or the ISO or whatever it may be but the fact it’s something you want to pick up all the time and use.

    I am not drawn to a range finder because it’s a Leica. It’s because it’s the only digital RF option (realistically), with a great range of lens options. I am being drawn to start using a range finder and there is a big difference. Why? Because it’s simple (I shoot in manual 95% of the time) AND it also presents a new photographic challenge. I feel it’s a format I could learn a lot from.

    Anyway, enough rambling….thanks


    1. Hi Andrew,

      We’ve ALL been guilty of “postcard” shots, and there’s nothing wrong with them. But, it’s nice to consciously “infuse yourself” (to use one of my own phrases (see https://prosophos.com/2013/01/10/my-photography-workflow-part-4)) into a scene – even a well known scene – and come up with something different.

      As for the gear, it’s actually quite important. The photographer-camera interface is critical – much more than most people realize. The problem that most enthusiasts run into is *constant* gear changing, which can be counterproductive. I’m guilty of this one too :).

      Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments.


  2. Reblogged this on sanecinema and commented:
    I’m not sure whether this applies to the sanecinema blog precisely, however the thoughts are similar to ones I would express in filmmaking and his photos have a special something, so I think the followers of this blog might appreciate me sharing.

  3. …but what if I thought that was a GOOD family photo?


    (What’s that thing in the background, anyway? It looks like a skeleton or a mummy! Geez man!)

    Thanks for this bit of instructional humor. Now I’m a bit sheepish about the number of bad (non-keeper) photos I do take…I guess I’ll chalk it up to practice!

    All the best,

    1. Oh, this photo is so bad, it’s actually good… I mean, just look at their expressions, for one.

      And the background object is never to be discussed here.


  4. I had found this blog by searching for reviews on voigtlander lenses and now I am blown away by the thoughts and advice here.

    I am TOTALLY bummed that right as I show up I find out I could have paid for teaching but I am five seconds too late.

    The free advice will have to suffice.

    I can’t decide which is better the images or the kind thoughts on how to learn about this amazing hobby. Well hobby for me, art for some.

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