This Is Why Your Photos Are Boring (But It’s Not Really Your Fault)

The photography that you’re shooting and putting out into the world is boring.

The lead image of this piece is, to me, one of the most boring images that I’ve created in the past few months. It’s true. But to many of us, photography is self serving. It’s very much just about you all the time. In order for photography to be less boring, it needs to be about others. That statement is significantly more complex than it sounds.

The reason why your photography is boring doesn’t even necessarily have to do with you, but with people’s attention spans. The internet, for all the freedom it provides, also gives us the privilege of being bored from one second to the next. If something isn’t really jiving with you, you can change. Content (like this article) is literally created more on the basis of catching someone’s interest vs necessarily being important. It’s a widely accepted theory in the world of journalism; we’re entertaining ourselves to death.

Think of it this way:

  • Don’t like what’s on one channel? Then go to the next.
  • Don’t like this blog? Go to another.
  • Don’t care about that photo you’re seeing on Facebook? Don’t sit there and stare at it; move on.

Now, let’s consider the behavior when someone is engaged:

  • Like what’s on this channel? Then continue watching the baseball game.
  • Do you adore this article? Then you’re probably still reading.
  • Like that photo you just saw on Facebook? Then you’ll most likely keep staring at it.

People look at photos just because they can, but what keeps them looking and staring at them generally has to do more with their own needs and wants. If someone is hungry or amazed by some awesome food, then they’ll sit there and stare. More than likely though, they’ll look at a video instead.

So now you need to figure out how you, as a photographer, can tell the entire story in one frame when a video can tell an entire story in one embed from YouTube. How are you going to do that? How are you going to do it to appeal to the variety of human needs and wants?

The answer to this is complicated. Each person has their own interests and wants, but a good photo makes people sit there and stare even if it’s just for a few seconds. They’ll interact with it on social media. They’ll save it. Photos otherwise just get taken in and moved past.