Mean Ruz Lighthouse, Ploumanac’h, Brittany, France, 2008. Canon 1D mk II, 17-40mm lens, 17mm, f/11, 2.5s, ISO 50 © Amaury Descours © Amaury Descours

How many times have I heard this little music: “Amaury, your photos are superb, but before I can imagine doing the same, I would have to master the techniques X, Y or Z…”.

Many people believe that to make great photos, they must have super powers.

You should know everything about photography, have expensive professional gear, use very complicated softwares, before even hoping to take pictures that are out of the ordinary.

So do you really have to give up your dream of making better pictures?

I would like to remind you my 4 truths for a great photo!

Truth #1. A Photo Without Emotion Doesn’t Exist!

If in front of your picture we wonder what there is to see, we look at it sideways by raising our eyebrows, we push back our head by reflex, we turn away from it immediately or even we are exasperated, what is really happening?

We feel emotions!

Remember Plutchik’s wheel: boredom, annoyance, disgust, contempt, disapproval or indignation are all clearly identified emotions.

Of course, you would like your photo to release your emotions and certainly among the 8 positive emotions: joy, anticipation, confidence, surprise, love, curiosity or delight.

But whether your photo is extraordinary, banal, mediocre or particularly failed, your photo will ALWAYS arouse emotions for the viewer!

Truth #2. All Your Technical Choices (or Your Non-Choices) Have an Emotional Impact On Your Photo

Put 2 photographers facing the same scene, they will not take the same photos. No matter if they are beginners or experienced, everyone will take their picture.

Why? A photographer ALWAYS makes very personal choices. Using a particular camera, a particular lens, a particular filter, a particular exposure setting, a particular position in relation to the subject and the light, a particular placement of the frame around the subject, shooting at a particular moment: these are all technical choices!

The difference between a beginner and an experienced photographer is that the beginner is not aware that he has a choice and that he has to make choices.

So always ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you feel about your subject?
  • Does this technique bring its own emotions, and if so which ones?
  • Or does this technique reinforce existing emotions?

Truth #3. It’s Better To Have a Single Well Applied Technique Than Several Badly Arranged Ones

Taking a picture is turning what you feel into an image. Make visible (your photo) what is invisible (your emotions) !

But there is no universal recipe for successful transformation. It is the choice of each ingredient (the techniques!) and their mixture that will create the emotions of your photo.

In cooking, if you start mixing caviar with foie gras and truffles, they may be extraordinary ingredients, but the result will certainly be indigestible.

While one or two simple ingredients can make fabulous dishes.

In photography, it’s the same!

If you only consider new techniques for their esthetical merits but forget the emotional intent, you will create the negative emotions of a failed photo.

Sometime it’s better to stay with techniques you already know and master them to the maximum.

Just say to yourself, “I already know how to do this, how can it serve the emotions of my picture?”

Truth #4. Your Best Photos Are to Be Made Now!

Stop imagining that you need to know everything about your camera. Or your photo editing application. Or anything else that would make you think that technique takes precedence over everything else.

It’s the surest way to convince yourself incapable of taking beautiful pictures.

There is no choice between technique or emotion: you need both to progress.

Remember my creative pyramid!

The pyramid proposes techniques for your subject, your shooting, your composition, your light, your development and your presentation to carry your emotions.

To master a single technique at one level of the pyramid is enough to consider a technique at a higher level.

Whatever your experience, a great photo is never inaccessible! You can already do it today.

What Do You Think?

What technique do you already master today? Are you sure you have explored all the possibilities of this technique to capture emotions?

Leave me your comment, I will answer with pleasure.

Do you like what you’ve learned? Share this article with your loved ones!

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