Don’t Put Yourself In A Box – The Key To Better Photography

Recently I was doing some Street Photography in Pittsburgh while feeling less than motivated, I was either tired or just having an off day.  I tend to get a little introspective on days like that and that day was no different.  I realized that I had been so focused on Street Photography lately that I formed a sort of tunnel vision, it felt as though the harder I looked the less I saw.  Deep, right?  Here is what I learned…


I like Landscape Photography…  I like Landscape Astrophotography…  I like Marketing Photography, Street Photography, Urban Landscape Photography, Fine Art Photography, and a bunch of other photograph-ies I have yet to try.  Each type of photography I have tried has taught me a new way of seeing.

By vehemently stating that I’m a Street Photographer!  Or a Landscape Photographer!  I’ve unintentionally pigeon-holed myself, or clipped my artistic wings (if we’re staying with bird like descriptors).  We don’t make a conscious decision to ignore seeing the world as a different type of photographer but on a subconscious level that’s exactly what happens when you focus so intensely on a specific genre of photography.

The Relationship

We don’t always realize the influence that one type of photography may have on another type, Street Photography has contributed to my Landscape Photography by helping me to see geometric relationships in the world (among other things).  I now notice small relationships between shapes, light, and colors more than I ever did when I only focused on landscapes.

Landscape Photography, on the other hand, set the foundation for my Street Photography.  I use leading lines, the rule of thirds, reflections, and a ton of other compositional elements I relied so heavily on in Landscape Photography with my street work.


Another huge influence that Street Photography has had on my Landscape work incorporating the human element in Landscapes.  When I first started working with Landscape Photography I would go to great lengths to avoid having a person muck up my shot, it wasn’t until I realized the importance of the human factor that I began to incorporate people in my shots in a dynamic way…  No more pushing tourists off cliffs to get them out of my shot.

The interaction of humans with their environment.

Mix It Up

The challenge can be focusing on more than one type of photography at a time.  We might put on our Street Photographer cap and head out into the city not even thinking about taking a cityscape shot or urban landscape shot.  It’s as if we decide that our brain is not capable of seeing in more than one way.

* Mind you, there is nothing wrong with being able to focus in this way…  It’s actually an immense benefit in many aspects of life, just not always photography.  If you were taking a test or doing your taxes (blah) and you wanted to block out the sound of your children viciously mauling one another (if you don’t have kids you can replace the word ‘kids’ with ‘many cats’) this type of tunnel vision would be welcomed. 

Try to get your mind to open or relax in a way that you can let yourself see the world as a photographer…  Not any specific type of photographer, just a photographer who see’s relationships between colors, shapes, light, etc..  Instead of heading out into the city, town, or countryside with the mind-set that you’ll only practice one type of photography or another, have an open mind and set out to take interesting photographs…  Period.  Not a certain type of photograph or specific subject, just use your ‘mind for photography’ to capture interesting frames.

If you’re able to stay out of the “box” and keep an open mind when you’re out shooting you’ll be able to walk away with far better photography.  Keeping an open mind each time you head out with the camera isn’t all kittens and puppies, it can be difficult and requires you to take a step back and be deliberate with your thoughts.  Avoid getting tunnel vision by allowing yourself to take a Street Photography shot while looking for urban landscapes or take a portrait of a stranger while doing Landscape Photography.

Above all else, have fun and be sure to subscribe to or (or both) for new articles emailed right to you.  Check out the Facebook Page for more updates and the occasional photo contest.


More from John Barbiaux
Photography Tip Of The Day: To Chimp, Or Not To Chimp
Chimping is the practice of looking at ones LCD screen after each...
Read More
0 replies on “Don’t Put Yourself In A Box – The Key To Better Photography”