How to shoot far more interesting photographs...

(consumer camera.  consumer lens.  continuous light.)

The only way to shoot more interesting photographs is to become a more interesting person.

And, how do you do that?

Listen more, talk less.

Travel more.

Eat stuff you never tried before.

Go some place scary.

Make friends with people who are smarter than you.

Make friends with people who are actors, artist and musicians.

Change your habits.

Read more novels.

Read more poems.  (Try Billy Collins...or Wallace Stevens.)

Go to museums. Look at the art.

Go to  art galleries.

Go to a mosque.  Go to a church or go to a synagog.  Go to a house of worship that's not your current brand.  

Learn new stuff from your kids.

Pick a place that's one tank of gas away and go there.

Go on a life threatening adventure.

Spend a month on a cargo ship.  Or a fishing boat.

Take naps in the middle of the day and stay up all night.

Try your hand at abstract painting.

Date your wife.  Or husband.

Change political parties for a while.

Put down your cameras until you really learn how to tell interesting stories.

Become a more interesting person and you'll take more interesting photographs.  Really.


  1. True. All of it. Another good rule: Don't shoot when bored. And,likewise, don't shoot bored people. They're boring.

  2. Sounds all good, but I was distracted by the utensils. Might those be fancy versions of the detested spork?

  3. John, The Classic Spork has only three tines...

  4. Too late the only way the suicide.

  5. "Make friends with people who are smarter than you."

    I'd add: "Make friends with people whom you think are dumber than you. Be ready for a big surprise. If your mind and heart aren't closed, you will learn something of value."


  6. Those porcelain rectangular plates are everywhere nowadays. Even I have a couple. I really love plating on them because you can always make your food look more interesting using that aspect ratio.

    So there's another one for you. Eat off of rectangular plates.

  7. I am ready for the cargo ship trip, just don't know how to arrange it.

  8. Well said! I'd just summarize your "Make friends..." lines as "Make friends with people who aren't like you, and don't see the world the same way that you do." There's a reason we've each got two eyes with space between them -- make a habit of looking at the world through just one eye, and you lose your perspective.

  9. Add -
    The next time you consider buying a new lens, buy a book instead. A monograph by a good/great/ emerging/dead photographer. Look at it very carefully. learn what a good photograph IS.
    Take a photo every day - go and look for one now.

  10. Thanks for this post Kirk. You've inspired me to stay off-line more, and live me life.

  11. So making friends with actors, artists and musicians makes you more interesting while making friends with, say, scientists and engineers doesn't? Or are those people implied by those "who are smarter than you"? In which case it's implied that actors, artists and musicians are not?

    Also, change political parties? Do you just pick your political party like a football club? Is that like switching between Canon and Nikon? Maybe that's an American thing...

  12. Mark, I'm just presuming that a huge majority of my readers are in technical fields as borne out by off line communication. Hence the idea of meeting artists. If you have only friends who are artists then by all means go and meet some engineers and bankers. And yes, just change your politics and see what it feels like. If you are a conservative be liberal, liberal? be conservative. Just open the mind. And finally, yes. Most wacky ideas come from America. And then we sell them to you.

  13. Being a software developer as well as an (amateur) photographer and an (amateur) juggler I happen to know both "technical" as well as "artistic" people, and they both enrich my life.

    As for how to change my politics I wouldn't know how to do that, any more than I could go from being atheist to Hindu. I like to base my beliefs and convictions on facts and (sound) arguments. How about trying to be a flat-earther for a year?

  14. Thanks for making my arguments for me, Mark. You are a software developer and you know "artistic" people. But do you know full time, full bore, do it even if I starve, artists? People who don't rely on or get deflected by a safety net?

    And why couldn't you study Hindu-ism with an open mind for a year.

    Does pragmatic and logical always mean "right"?

    And I am already a "flat-earther" since I can't see the curve everyone talks about.... It's all theory to me.

  15. I love your list. I have already printed it out and hung it in my office. I will push on the poetry part. I am, like most Americans, not fluent in poetry. I have read a few Billy Collins collections and loved them. Have to expand my repertoire. I am skipping a generation and learning from my granddaughter. A very wise old 10 year old. I'll even try to look at things from the other party's point of view as the election nears.

    Now to make travel plans and buy a few novels.

  16. Go to a convention for a practice you are unfamiliar with. Tattoo convention, blogger convention, medical convention, juggling convention.

    Try a new physical activity, rock climbing, martial arts, rowing, yoga.


    Pick an argument and let the other person win.

  17. Thank you for today's class. Thank you also for the excellent series of photographs (On the January 16 post) and the thought process that went along with them.

    You are a natural storyteller, and so you dislike photos that do not tell a story. Your photos seem to reflect your mood sometimes, even when you start off to capture someone else's mood.

    This is why I read blogs by photographers, and not by accountants.

  18. I appreciate this one a lot (though I won't be changing politics any time soon, I am an atheist studying Zen Buddhism...) - I've found myself repeatedly frustrated by my surroundings. Arlington is just kind of depressing, the height of aging suburban anonymity - which is fine for a certain kind of imagery, but it's hard to say anything new there.

    I've realized that it's as much about my lack of adventure as surroundings though. I need to make my life more interesting, even if it feels at times like a hassle to integrate into work and my normal life.

    One part of that is exploring art and craft outside of photography - I want to teach myself to draw, to learn screenprinting, etc.. Things I can do late into the night, when I have my free time.

  19. Yes, it's brilliant!

  20. Thanks for re-posting. Great suggestions which I missed (not sure how/why) the first time around.

  21. Interesting to who?

    My friends? Family? Random strangers?

    My self?

    1. If you have to ask you'll never know.

    2. Sorry, the question was semi-rhetorical.

      I know the correct answer, but only from my point of view.

    3. Ash, that's all any of us can know.

  22. Thank you! Take a photo every day


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