As a photographer, I experiment a lot with my camera and apply tricks and techniques that I’ve learned during the past years.
But sometimes, it’s the photo itself that actually teaches me a valuable lesson to improve my skill and vision.
Here are three images that have changed the way I look at a scene to capture stronger and more saleable photos.
1. Tanzania landscape
This photo was taken in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
As we were driving around with our guide, we stopped next to a tree with a pride of lions napping in the shade. While everyone in the safari car was crowded on one side to take photos of the lions, I decided to find a different subject. Behind us was this simple landscape with a couple of acacia trees, no traffic and a beautiful warm glow from the setting sun. It looked like a perfect minimalistic landscape scene to photograph.
Turns out this image is now my top seller in stock, with over 950 sales on just one website.
The reason it sells very well is because it’s more than just a pretty landscape. It also conveys a mood, a concept. It can represent the Serengeti National Park, or a safari in Africa, but it can also portray a sense of freedom, adventure and tranquility.
This photo taught me to slow down and look beyond the obvious subject to find different scenes.
2. Spring blossoms
Although it looks like I hopped on a plane and went somewhere exotic to photograph the cherry blossoms, this is actually a photo of a random blooming tree on a busy street next to my building.
On one side there’s a bus stop with a graffiti-covered wall, and on the other side are parked cars and recycling bins. It’s a place I rarely pay attention to and walk by every single day.
But when I saw the blooming trees in spring, I wanted to try and replicate the beautiful photos of cherry blossoms in Japan.
All I had to do was move around, change my angle, look up and take a photo with the overcast sky in the background.
This photo taught me that beautiful photos aren’t just taken in faraway exotic lands or fancy studios. There are hidden gems everywhere around us and all we need to do is observe and change our perspective to remove unnecessary distractions.
This is one of my most popular prints that I sell every year.
3. Romantic zebras
When I saw these two zebras grazing at dawn, I took a few close-up photos of them but wanted more. With my settings dialed in and my finger on the shutter button, I waited for some kind of interaction, a moment that would make the photo stand out.
After a few minutes, I took this shot of the zebras “kissing” in the warm glow of the rising sun.
This photo wasn’t just a simple wildlife shot anymore. It also had an imaginary story. It looked like a romantic scene with a loving couple instead of just grazing zebras.
For that reason, it quickly became my second best-seller on stock.
This photo taught me to be patient and look for stories. We love looking at beautiful landscapes, but stories have a stronger impact in our minds and make a photo even more memorable.