Photos are disappointing

So, you’re on a day out with your loved ones. It’s been a great day.

You’ve taken loads of images with your smartphone, but almost all your photos are disappointing.

On your way home, you dream of creating the type of images you’ve seen from ‘better’ photographers. And wonder why you struggle so much to get anything close to a similar quality.

Common reasons your photos are disappointing

Everyone has at some point, found it difficult to create what they see as a good photo.

And, it’s compounded because you’re told to ‘develop your own style’ in photography. So how do you develop your own style and learn from others what makes a great image?

There are some basic steps you can take, to turn any photographic situation into a great image. And they’ll work no matter what your style of photography.


Developing your own style

Professional photographers have generally spent years perfecting the basics of photography, before discovering their own style.

So, finding your style of photography takes time and you’ll usually find it by accident. But, more about that in another article.

For now, concentrate on getting the best image you can from your smartphone. And, as I’ll explain below, if your photos are disappointing, there are some quick ways to fix it.


Why are your photos disappointing?

So, let’s go through the 5 ways to stop your photos being disappointing. Practice them often and you’ll be making great images in no time.

1 Get the composition right

Composition is the foundation of a great photograph. Without composition, the viewers eye wanders around the image with no real idea what they should be looking at.

A badly composed image doesn’t have any ‘punch’ and it’s often difficult to tell what the subject actually is.

So, before you click the shutter, think about what you want your viewer to see. What story are you trying to tell with the image? Is there anything in the image that draws the eye away from the subject? And don’t forget to check he corners of the image for anything that shouldn’t be there.

There’s lots of guidance on the rules (read guidance) of composition. Some of the more well known ones are, The Rule of Thirds, using Leading Lines‘ and Diagonals‘.

If your photos are disappointing, getting basic composition right will make a huge difference.

2 You don’t have a defined subject in the image

This one happens a lot, but is one of the easiest to fix.

Always have a defined imageIf you’re someone who’s new to photography, it’s often the case that you’ll take an image of what you can see. But, surprisingly, that can be a problem. let me explain…

When you’re looking at the potential image on the back of your smartphone, you know what your subject is. And because you know what the subject is, you tend to disregard distractions.

When you’re seeing the image ‘live’ it looks fine. But when you see the image frozen in time after, it looks disappointing and flat. That’s often because distractions, shadows, or other possible subjects are also in the image. And you didn’t notice them before.

So, before you press that shutter, make sure it’s 100% clear what your subject is. Don’t make your viewer have to hunt out the subject of your image.

3 Get the lighting right

Light is the most important thing in photography. Photography literally means drawing with light.

So, if the light is off, your image will be too. But, there’s some simple things you can do.

  • Try to shoot with the Sun behind you if you can
  • Try not to shoot in direct, bright sunlight (unless strong, hard shadows is what you’re trying to achieve)
  • Try to shoot in the golden hours just as the Sun has risen, or just before it sets.
  • Take your own light with you to equalise the shadows from the Sun.
  • Wait for a cloud to soften the light before you press the shutter.

Hard, strong shadows can ruin what would otherwise be a successful shot. Soft, diffused light, can turn an average image into something spectacular.

4 Get to know your camera modes

Many issues are created because you take every image in ‘Photo’ mode.

Shoot in aperture modeMost smartphone cameras today have at least a portrait mode and many have an Aperture mode as well.

By practicing with these different modes, you can create a much more appealing image. If your photos are disappointing, this one change can make a big difference.

For a week let’s say, why not take every image in photo mode, portrait mode and aperture mode and see the difference it makes in different situations. It costs nothing to experiment, so what have you got to lose?

5 You’re not practicing enough

This last one might be a bit contentious, but it’s the thing that will possibly make the biggest difference.

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said

“Your first 10,000 images are your worst”


And this was during the time of 35mm film. With the advent of digital photography, that could easily be 100,000. So, don’t be too upset if your photos are disappointing when you’ve only taken 1,000 images 🙂

And finally, one extra tip.

6 Why do I dislike my photos?

Here’s an extra tip for you, that you should be doing after every photo shoot.

Analyse your images.

You’ll no doubt look at your images after you’ve shot them. It’s almost second nature to look, decide you don’t like the way it came out and so delete it and try again.

Don’t do that!

Keep every image you take. When you get home, look closely at every image and try to work out WHY you don’t like it. By identifying what doesn’t work, you’ll be in a better potions to do better next time.

If you just delete the images you don’t like, you’ll never learn why you don’t like them.

Practice is the Mother of skill. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.

So, don’t give up. Just keep shooting.


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