Pretty Isn’t A Subject

vertical Yosemite

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I attended a photography workshop in Yosemite last May hosted by Samy’s Camera. You would think in a place like Yosemite, it would be hard to take a bad photograph, when every direction you turn is more scenic than the last. At the end of the workshop we were able to submit 5 photographs for critique by Jennifer Wu, a Canon explorer of Light, one of the instructors for the workshop. One of the images I submitted was this one. Of all the photographs I took that weekend, I don’t remember exactly why I wanted to submit this one. Maybe it was the pretty blue sky, green forest, running water, and a hint of cloud…what’s not to like 😉 Jennifer’s response was that she didn’t know what the subject of the photograph was. That comment left me kind of speechless..because I didn’t know either… it was just pretty. As a photographer you need to decide what you want to communicate to the viewer and compose the image accordingly.


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She also said a horizontal view that incorporated more of the scene might help. Turns out I had such a photograph. The composition on this photograph is better because it has a foreground element (the water), a middle element (the sandbar) and a background (the trees and mountain) This type of composition gives depth to the photograph and leads the viewer in. The first photograph doesn’t do that.

Lessons Learned:

  • Decide what the subject is and compose the photograph accordingly
  • Think before you shoot