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Photo Tips > Mind & Heart Related > Subject Matter Sucks

Subject matter can be the least important ingredient in a great photograph.


As their first assignment, beginning photographers in my classes are asked to photograph a mundane object.

Go to the Mundane Assignment.

For example, a crumpled brown paper bag.

They're challenged to transform their mundane object into an objet d'art, with great light, color, and tone (GLCT).

The assignment attempts to shift their focus, literally, from subject matter, to what makes a great photograph, GLCT.

A photograph of a tiger in India may be an ordinary photograph, without GLCT.

On the other hand, a feral cat along a highway in New Jersey, can become a great photograph, if there's GLCT.

Quantity Gets You Quality

In the final weeks of the class, passionate photographers, the runners, are separated from the more pedestrian photographers.


By their motivation to develop simple self-assignments.

If you aren't taking/making photographs all of the time, you're just a pedestrian.

Quantity gets you quality.

Pedestrian photographers have to wait for a trip or family event.

That's the only time they run with their photography.

The subject matter stimulates their shutter fingers.

Yes, trips and family events should be photographed.

But, there are great photographs to be had whenever you encounter GLCT.

Let GLCT inspire your work, with a self-assignment.

A category or location can be an effective self-assignment.

Nicolai Grossman

Nicolai Grossman photographed a category, shopping carts.


Shopping Carts + GLCT = Great Photographs

Shopping Carts

Photon Detector Grossman's blog

Julieanne Kost

Julieanne Kost photographed from a location, a window seat in a jet.


Window Seat + GLCT = Great Photographs

Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking


If you let great light, color, and tone, stimulate your shutter finger, you'll have a lot of great work to show.