A 10 Minute Lesson to Photographing Images with More Pizzazz

A 10 Minute Lesson to Photographing Images with More Pizzazz



Even the most seasoned photographer wants to continue to stretch their creativity. I know I do!

One simple activity you can do in your spare time is to find new ways to photograph everyday, plain things. Yup, the things you see or use every day; no models, no glamorous set-ups, no breathtaking locations. You don’t even need to do this with a fancy DSLR camera or have a significant amount of time. The lesson you learn can be achieved in 10 minutes once a week, using a $100 camera or a smart phone.

Your goal is to make something very plain look more interesting through your lens.


1. Pay attention to the shadows

If there is a lot of light, then there are probably shadows. Figure out if the shadows are helping the image or hurting it. If the shadows take away from the image, then make a change so that they don’t. The change could be a significant one, like moving your object altogether, or it could be a subtle one, like changing the angle you are shooting.


2. Look for natural patterns and shapes

If you can locate natural patterns in your shot or interesting shapes within the object or everyday scene, then you can shoot it in a way that highlights this.


3. Know where there is good light

If you can move the object, then place it in the light you want. That could be near a window if you are indoors, or in the shade, if you are outside when the sun is too bright. If you can’t move what you are shooting, then re-position yourself or angle of your camera.

4. Take a close-up shot of one of the key details

You don’t always have to photograph the full object or the entire scene. Figure out what are the key details and consider photographing just that.

5. If it opens, open it – if it moves, move it

Is it a chest? A book? A cookie jar? Photographing it opened will show the content and make the image more dynamic.


Example:  Photographing plain things to create images with more pizzazz

I gave myself 10 minutes to walk around my house and find natural hearts. This lesson was easy and fun. More importantly, it let me see these plain, everyday objects differently (see three images above for more of the hearts I found).



So, now what?

Doing this activity from time to time can help you discover new ways to photograph people, landscapes, or whatever makes your heart sing. You can give yourself a specific goal, like finding a particular shape, as I did in the example above, or give yourself a general goal of shooting an object with pizzazz in 10 minutes.

Over time, your eyes will be trained to do this on their own, and the results may surprise you.

How this activity translates into lifestyle shoots

Here are a few examples from my recent photoshoots:






How do YOU stretch your creativity? Share with us in the comments below, so we can all help each other grow.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Annie Tao is a Professional Lifestyle Photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area who is best known for capturing genuine smiles, emotions and stories of her subjects. You can visit Annie Tao Photography for more tips or inspiration. Stay connected with her on her Facebook page

  • I love the idea of the shadows (mostly because I like looking at shadows in general) 🙂 All those little hearts are pretty cute. Great article 🙂

  • Guest

    Here is a glass of beer.

  • Matthew Panos

    Glass of beer.

  • MStull

    Great reminder, slow down and be aware of your surroundings!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Very cool. I love that it looks abstract!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Yes yes! 🙂

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Thanks so much, Amaryllis!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    At first, I thought you meant that you DRINK a glass of beer to create images with more pizzazz! hahaha… that would work too! 😉

  • Choo Chiaw Ting

    wow great photos… i am stil with my kit lens 18-55mm and hopefully i could do some processing to get such beautiful photos.

  • ChshreCat

    Great article. One of my favorite complements I’ve ever had on my photos was “only he could make THIS beautiful”

  • Suzette Barnett

    Thanks Annie! I’m a huge fan of dramatic shadows and I love your shot of the kid reading on the couch. Your article reminded me of one thing I keep in mind when I’m traveling… I try to imagine where everyone else who shoots that scene would be, and I move. I find the best light or an unexpected angle for a totally unique shot. Suzette | TrySomethingFun.com

  • Incredible pictures Annie, I´m a very full of concepts after read your article.
    Thanks for share your work

  • Paying attention to shadows:

  • mg biondo

    Popcorn in the sun

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