5 Ways to Avoid Boring “Hobby” Photography

Do you blog or post on social media? I’ve been trying to improve my photography for my articles. I’ve learned a lot by observing things around me. In fact, I think observation is one of the best ways to discover new things you like and want to improve upon. Whether it’s an article I’ve read or an image I’ve seen, I am always on the lookout for cool stuff. For example, if I see a photo that impresses or inspires me, I try and save it somehow. I save the image to my computer or I post it on my Pinterest page.

In this article, I jot down a few thoughts on what you should do to avoid capturing boring images. Or, in other words, how to be a better photographer!

And, for the record, I’m not a professional photographer. I simply enjoy taking a lot of images for my personal enjoyment. If I think something is cool, or I learned something interesting, I share it. Usually, I save things as a photo or screenshot to my hard drive or to a cloud photo storage. Here’s a 14-day free trial for SmugMug.

RELATED: TAKE BETTER PHOTOS FOR YOUR BATTLE REPORTS

Again, for starters in a rush, here are the 5 things you should consider for better photos of your hobbies and games:

  1. Lower your perspective
  2. Raise your perspective
  3. Get (really) close
  4. Embrace shadows
  5. Remove color

Continue reading below for more details!

The best way to learn anything, including photography, is to do it.

Go practice your art. Make a mess.

Be awesome.


Disclosure: We are a participant in affiliate programs for Amazon Services LLC Associates, Noble Knight Games, and KEH Camera. Some of the links on this page may refer you to these or other affiliate sites where we earn fees for qualifying purchases.

Here are The 5 Ways to Avoid Boring “Hobby” Photography:

1. Lower your perspective

Photography that captures your hobbies, or as I called it “hobby photography”, is unique.

You don’t just take photos of your work. You’re documenting a story. Stories are about adventure. They have a beginning, a climax, and a conclusion.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - Smartphone mini photography
Take a photo with your smart phone or a regular camera. Both are great tools for capturing your hobby work, game tables, or other creative displays.

Do your photo capture a “story”? Can your viewer understand the narrative of your work?

As much as we take for granted the routine things we do everyday, even the fun activities, there is a little spark in all of it. That bit of discovery about the world around us, within ourselves, is something we lose as we grow-up.

Photography stops time.

But, your camera is more than a time machine.

(Oh, deep!) Let me explain.

No matter what you do, a photograph will never reveal that moment in perfect resolution as your mind’s eye first saw it.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - warhammer 40k
Gaming photography need not always look the same. Get your camera lens low to the action.

In other words, a photograph sucks at capturing memories. Forget Kodak moments… And, for you videographer’s out there: same problem. No video or photo will capture what your eyes have already seen. Sure, you can document as a photojournalist to tell a better story for your “readers”. Take a look at my 5 tips at photographing better gaming battle reports.

So, my advice is to instead change where you place your camera’s lens.

Lower your camera’s viewpoint.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - warhammer 40k. low and close up photo
Putting your view point at the eye level of your subject’s natural “eyes”, places your viewer into their world.

What do I mean?

Photo tip: Move your camera away from where your eyes would normally be looking.

If you’re painting miniatures and want to capture your work-in-progress (something I do quite frequently for this site), lower your camera to see through the eyes of your model’s scale. Pretend you’re their miniature size. Look at them that way. Get into the world of miniatures.

Perspective.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - infinity miniatures game
Check your corners….

The process of getting a low perspective will also immerse your viewer into your work, your activity.

If you’re playing a game, play with how you might see things through a different place. Take your camera up high and point it straight down, as a bird would see your space from high above.

2. Raise your perspective

The world is your oyster. You own what you see.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - raise your perspective - warmachine
A top down view of a game table creates a “safe emotional space” for your audience.

Get up high with your perspective. Take your lens to new heights. By pointing your view downward, you are above the fray.

You give a viewer a safer way of seeing things.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - raise your perspective - flat lay hobby desk
A flat lay photo of my hobby desk. Taken directly from above, the photo is “different” from your normal image.

Safer?

Absolutely. In contrast to the “lower perspective”, you remove immersion. You take the viewer out of the action. We often wonder about how birds feel when they are flying above us. How the World to them may seem so small and insignificant.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - raise your perspective - carnage 2 historical gaming
From up high, a historical wargame takes on a different “feel”. It comes more alive, and yet, still surreal.

Birds are free.

You can evoke this feeling, too. Free yourself from the ground and get yourself high. Create images that remove you from the bounds of the Earth.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - raise your perspective - top down ultramarine warhammer 40k
Not your everyday battle report image.

When you’re looking down from the sky (flying in an airplane or whatever), things on the ground become tiny, miniature. “The people look like ants…”, they say.

Well, with actual miniatures, this sense becomes even easier. You don’t need the thousand foot altitude. Your standing height should be enough.

3. Get close

Okay, instead of going farther away.

Do the opposite.

Get in close with your camera. Put the lens right where the action is. Photograph the details. Everything counts!

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - raise your perspective - gray paint brush close up
A brush loaded with paint creates an interesting subject only because you’ve filled your frame.

To avoid boring photographs, see things differently than you normally would. It is a rare person who puts their face that close to any object in the world. I’m not saying you need microscopic close-ness. Just change up the view.

See differently. Make others do the same.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - raise your perspective - close up brush sweeping
If I had taken this photo from my normal 3 foot viewing distance, I don’t think you would have the same interest.

Most smartphones have built-in macro functionality. If you’re using a regular camera, consider getting an extension tube or a macro lens.

I find the best way to compose a photo, when you’re unsure what to focus on, is to merely fill your frame.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - close up water droplet
With a fast shutter speed and filling my frame, this water droplet takes on a uniqueness. It almost looks like a solid glass bead.

Stick your lens as close to your hobby subject as possible. Fill up whatever your viewfinder space you got. Then, when you upload your images, use a cropping tool and cut-out everything non-essential.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - close up brush tip
It’s just a fine brush tip.

Sure, there’s the rule of thirds, and the compositional things you can do to make things more interesting. But, ultimately, when in doubt, show things that you might not normally see with your naked eyes.

4. Embrace shadows

Professional photographers hate bad light. And, when I mean professional photographers, I mean those that create images in commercial use, e.g., weddings and events, product photography, sports.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - embrace shadows and silhouettes
A shadow knight… or a Grey Knight Dreadknight for those familiar with this model.

Bad light is any kind of light that distorts, dims, or removes clarity from the subject.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - embrace shadows and hard light
Shadows cast from sunlight through a nearby window.

But, as a hobbyist or artist, we don’t care about the commercial viability of an image. We are looking for photos that are “interesting”.

Do you know what interesting is?

Interesting things surprise us.

We are attracted to subject matter that pops out at us. Or, subjects that make you think one thing, then laugh in your face.

Shadows are amazing for creating drama and mood.

Shadows are the proxy of light slamming into impermeable objects.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - embrace shadows dice purple
With hard shadows, dice take on new shape and structure.

A cast shadows has no real form. It is a virtual thing that you can’t pin. And, that is what makes them so interesting.

We call the kind of light that makes shadows pop, hard light.

I don’t have any real tricks or tips about making interesting photos with shadows. You kind of have to play around with your camera.

Look for dark shapes.

https://www.dickblick.com

Embrace that darkness. All of that structure created by negative light will be something you simply have to discover.

(That’s part of the fun of photography)

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - gaming hand in hard light
Hard shadows combined with a low angle add tons of elements here that I think work together for a different kind of image.

Experiment with hard shadows and light. Don’t get scared off because the thing you think you should photograph isn’t well-lit. No, make something of whatever you have at hand.

I guess that’s a good lesson for life. Don’t avoid the dark parts; embrace them. Make the shadows a part of your story, your images. That, I think, is what makes things fascinating, interesting.

Authentic.

5. Remove color

I think a big mistake a lot of beginner artists make is trying too hard to fit their work into an idea. Sometimes, you have to play with your medium to learn what is truly on your mind.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - black and white photography
This works in both color, and black and white. It didn’t matter.

Color is distracting. Unless you know what color does in an image, you can probably do without it.

Don’t believe me? The old Twilight Zone episodes are amazing because they are in black and white (source). Even, the reboot will be in black and white, because it creates the creepy atmosphere that color fails to reproduce.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - black and white silhouettes
Black and white photography works great with silhouettes, even for miniatures!

Do you think Ansel Adams needed color to garner his renown with landscape photography? Or, Henri Cartier-Bresson?

If in doubt, make photos without color. Use only light and dark, contrast, to create images. It will force you to think about shapes and structure. All interesting photos have strong elements of structure.

Of course, I’m still learning.

But, for all intents, I find that the more I try and “see without color”, the more interesting my images become. If you have a camera or smart phone that lets you turn off color (black and white mode), see how you fair with your photography.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - close up black and white details high contrast
High contrast black and white shows off details like nothing else.

In this digital age, you can probably even take the same photos in color and b&w. This way, you can compare what you capture side-by-side.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - close up black and white drama on the tabletop
You don’t need color to show off a bit of muscle.

I only show you a few examples of what I’ve gotten for hobby-related things here. But, if you surf around the site, you’ll find a lot more. Here’s some of my favorite black and whites (not gaming related).

Bonus: Tell a story

Take a series of images.

Like words, string a line of photos together to form a sentence.

5 Ways to Avoid Boring "Hobby" Photography - how to be a better hobby photographer - photography for hobbyists - scale modeling photography - How to take better photos of miniatures - warhammer 40k. narrative lysander
Lysander (Warhammer 40) conquers a swarm of alien tyranids.

Sometimes, it’s hard to make a single photo interesting. If you add some context through a series of photos strung together, you can create a comic book like experience for your viewers. Although, I’m not sure I succeeded 100% with my image-series above, but you get the idea.

Final Word

I’ve found that sharing to social media doesn’t actually help much for learning how to improve.

Instead, the best way to learn is to observe. Slowly assimilate things into your work that you find interesting. Copy things. Replicate looks and styles that intrigue or evoke ideas or emotions in you.

Photography is like any other hobby-art. It takes a long time with a lot of practice to really see things, differently. The more you do it, the better you get.

And of course, the only way you know you’re getting better is looking back at your stuff (not other peoples’ work). One of the reasons I keep tons of photos stored (I don’t throw out many) is so that I can go back once in a while and see what I’ve done (use my SmugMug link here for 15% off photo storage!). This way, I can remind myself when I’m disheartened that I’ve already come a long way.

Anyway, I hope that this article was encouraging and informative, and maybe even challenging for you.

Ultimately, the key to avoid boring hobby photography is to have fun with the process.

Experiment, play, and learn!

Enjoy this article? Leave a comment below! Follow on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

3 thoughts on “5 Ways to Avoid Boring “Hobby” Photography”

  1. These are some awesome tips and I try to apply all these no matter what I’m shooting. Just moving around your subject, changing angles, etc can impact so many things. I especially like that none of these tips made me go out and buy a new piece of gear!

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: