I Wish I had Such Great Subjects to Photograph


Recently, a photographer on Rangefinder Forum posted the following comment on a thread there where I show my continuing project documenting life in my hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana:

"I wish I had some of the great subjects you are finding in your area."

The short essay below was my advice to him, and other photographers having a hard time finding things to photograph.



Roofers removing old shingles from a house.

Roofers, from my Wells Street project.


Great subject matter is easy to find, but most photographers go at it from the wrong direction. You have to have something you want to say to the world. You have to be interested in something and you have to want to tell its story through your photographs.

Most photographers instead go out with a camera looking for 'something interesting' or 'something pretty' or something 'visually striking.' The photographs made through this mode of work often lack depth because there's nothing to them but a desire to make a pretty picture. In addition, when one puts together a portfolio of such work (on a website, or in an exhibit, or your portfolio book), there is no cohesive body of work.

Some people try to overcome that by creating a 'style' that is based on using unique techniques (like alt processes), exotic equipment, or visual gimmicks like overprocessed HDR images. In the end, this fails because once you get past the gimmick, you still have to confront the image and what it depicts.

If you want to make great photographs, start by having something you want to say to the world, something you want people to see, to notice, to remember. Once you have that in mind, you'll start seeing good subject matter. "Good" means things that fit into the story you want to tell. Just walking around with a camera hoping to see something interesting is not a good strategy (though carrying a camera all the time once you know what you want to say with your work IS a good idea!).





The knowledge that I am sharing took many years of study and practice to attain. If you find it valuable, please donate through my Paypal button below. My creative work is how I support myself and my son. Thank you!






©2022 Christopher Crawford