October 28, 2023

Five Steps to More Meaningful Photography


John and I recently posted a YouTube video in which we talked about the sales pitches we see in photography:

“Follow this one rule for better photographs.”

“The three key steps to becoming a better photographer.”

“Ten things to improve your photography.”

“Do this ONE thing!”

Each hyperbolic statement is designed to get you to read the article and perhaps sell you something.

Then John asked if I had any such formulas (of course assuming that I did not). But “boy howdy” was he surprised when I told him that I did!

I have “Five Steps to More Meaningful Photography” and I GUARANTEE that they work! Here they are:

  1. Question your motives.
  2. Find your Vision.
  3. Find your Passion.
  4. Critically analyze your own work.
  5. Be true to yourself.

More meaningful photography has nothing to do with your equipment, how sharp your images are or what rules you follow.

More meaningful photography takes a lot of hard work, self-analysis and complete honesty.

But it’s worth it.

Click here to watch this episode of “The Cole and John Show.”

14 thoughts on “Five Steps to More Meaningful Photography

  1. Provocatio latin name, eh. Sure. Good sound, but I think new “digital generation” non understand, or because full idiot or problem with “phosphorus” mental pseudo infermity. I say and call it “Giostra degli acquisti”.

    Manunzio photographer since 1969

    Ps. Personal home page only Italian speaker, sorry

  2. YOU SAID IT!!! Especially number 5.

    Question your motives.
    Find your Vision.
    Find your Passion.
    Critically analyze your own work.
    Be true to yourself.

    I’ve been trying to say this to myself but you said it all for me. THANKS!

  3. I agree with your five steps, but good tools help. My Rolleiflex had a great lens. I still marvel at some of the images it made. When I needed sharpness, it delivered. I am watching a video about the Stradavarius violin. There is a reason great violinists want one. I think your five rules are for people just starting out. I believe you and I have checked them off our lists and are more concerned about refining our visions and working up to our standards.

  4. Cole,
    You’re right about equipment, and I keep proving it to myself. Left my Canon mirrorless home in rush trip to Seattle to be with my injured wife, and as she healed I picked up a used Canon APS-C and kit lens, and my images look just as good!
    I struggle with #2, finding vision. I love being out in nature and photographing its beauty, but finding my own style and vision is difficult, not just imitating other photographers. As usual, your posts and podcast are stimulating. Thank you

  5. Great Five steps helping me in my photography journey. Quite often I ask myself “why do I photograph, what do I want from my photography, how do I define success”. Maybe these thoughts came from a previous blog you wrote. This goes along with Step one, Step 3 I can identify based on the “feeling I get on occasion when a scene really excites me”. Still working on 2, 4 & 5, which is a great adventure.

  6. Great advice. These 5 “things” actually, in my mind, apply to almost any endeavor – personal or professional. Sports is a good example. Thanks.

  7. Cole
    As always, I really enjoy your content.
    Without question, adopting our personal vision for generating meaningful photography is a critical element for each photographer. Yes, there are a multitude of online hucksters waiting to lure dollars away from naive or easily influenced photographers. That said, the pursuit of meaningful images (for me) boils down to a few simple things. Always have a camera with you, never say I’ll get that image the next time I’m at this location, and most important of all, hone my photographic observational skills. The art of seeing is still (for me) the key to making good and meaningful images. It’s surprising how frequently I/we miss an obviously good opportunity. Lastly, recognizing and actually taking the bold step to delete the junk from a collection of images also plays a role in generating our best work over time.

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