The Most Important Factor In a Wow Photo

by | Jun 4, 2019 | Tips & Tricks | 2 comments

Are you pleased with your outdoor photos? Are they looking like the “wow shots” you see hanging in corporate workplaces or in promotional calendars?

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Part of it has to do with location, of course.

But location is only 1 of 3 main factors that make an awesome photo. Or actually, probably less then 1/3….

You see, an Obvious Subject is the first and most important factor of an awesome photo. Can you tell what the subject is right away? It may be tangible. It may be conceptual. It can take up a lot of space or a little bit of space in the photo. But in the end, an awesome photo will always have an obvious subject that the viewer picks up as soon as they look at the photo.

It helps if the subject is “relateable” too. Can you relate to it? People always make fantastic subjects. We relate to people because we are people. We feel joy when we see a smiling baby. We feel the urge to go hiking when we see a hiker hiking, even when it may not necessarily be in an epic place.

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Finding a subject in nature is harder. You have to be more intentional about it. What made me want to photograph this scene? What made it stand out to me? Before I take a picture of it, I need to know what it is that I’m taking a picture of. Choose your subject and do all you can to make it obvious. Make it pop.

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And sometimes location has a lot to do with this. You’re in your back yard….there are only so many objects or concepts you can make as your subject. There are millions of options, of course, but still, when you’re staring at a breathtaking mountain overlook then, well, it’s just easier to make the subject obvious. And it provides a little variation in your portfolio too….if you don’t already happen to live with your backdoor overlooking a breathtaking mountain overlook. If you did, well, then that would get boring. You’d be on the lookout for a different subject again. Kansas would sound fascinating, right?

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(This photo was taken in Kansas, by the way.)

So, regardless of where you are, choose your subject, and make it obvious!

Maybe I’ll have time to write about the other two main factors of an awesome photo later. It feels like I’ve mentioned the “awesome photo trio” a million times over the past couple of months doing Photography Teams at all these homeschool Conventions over the spring (well, maybe not a million times), but really, it is worth repeating!

And I’ll be repeating it again at the next two Photography Field Days coming up! Feel free to join me for some fun photography learning in the great outdoors on….

  • June 10 (Monday) in the Shenandoah Wilderness of Virginia, the White Oak Canyon and Oldrag area, or….
  • June 17 (also a Monday) near Lancaster Pennsylvania at Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve.

For lack of time I haven’t set up anything official on the website announcing these. So, if you’re interested in coming out and want more details, just shoot me an email via the Contact Page!


  1. Caitlin Compton

    Would love to hear the other 2 factors in a future blog post. And, that snowy landscape picture is amazing!

  2. James Staddon

    Yes, I’ve been wanting to return to the Rocky Mountains for 13 years, and finally had the opportunity to do so this year! Didn’t have much time for photography, but it’s amazing what can be seen from the road and captured with a telephoto lens!


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