The Emory 5C approach will greatly improve your photography


There is a technical side to photography and an artistic side. The artistic side is complex with few rules to follow but the 5C approach simplifies it in an intuitive approach that is easy to learn. It breaks down a photo into five components:  content, composition, clarity, creativity and combining all elements for unity. Each of these play an essential part in making an exceptional photo. I work mostly in landscape and nature but it works for any subject matter.

In my early photography I would occasionally take an outstanding photo and I soon gained recognition as being talented, but most of my efforts were off track. Over the course of years of dedicated effort, I gradually unraveled the mysteries of what makes an exceptional photo and the 5C approach is the result of what I learned. Using it can take your photography to a whole new level.

Cherokee Rock Village

Above is one of my early photos of  Cherokee Rock Village. To the right is a better composition which implements the 5C approach and was used in The Natural Beauty of Alabama.

Improved photo of Cherokee Rock Village


At first glance, you might think the second one is better because of the vivid color. Color is obviously important but so are the other fundamental elements of art - line, shape, value, texture and form. Anyone can take a picture with vivid color but that is not enough to make it an exceptional photo. Understanding the fundamental elements of art is the first step but figuring out how to apply them to create exceptional photos is the real challenge. Fortunately, the way to do it has already been figured out for you in the 5C approach.

I had previously studied these rock formations and concluded what I wanted. When a cold front moved in, I hit the road in the middle of the night and made my way to this spot before dawn. With the 5C approach it wasn't just a matter of luck. I knew exactly what I was doing and with the help of the Emory Program, so can you.


abstract water photography

Above is one of my early attempts working with flowing water. The reflections of blue sky and sun fascinated me but I didn't have the experience or visual insight to know what to do with it. Yes, it was creative, but that's not enough to make a great photo.

Improved abstract water photo

The second image is also creative but the content is more interesting, the composition is better, and there is a structural clarity that pulls it all together. Once you understand how to work with the 5Cs your photography will improve dramatically.

photo of grasses

Early on I spent considerable time working with grasses. I took a lot of photos like the one above,  trying to make something of nothing. You can take exceptional photos of ordinary subjects if you can implement the 5Cs like the second photo does.

improved photo of grasses


It is easy to take good pictures of colorful subjects like sunsets but creating exceptional photos of ordinary subjects like these grasses takes artistic skill. The 5C approach is the foundation of exceptional photography and using it will help you create better photos no matter what the subject. I have designed it to be the shortest route for reaching an advanced level of photography possible. 

To see more of my work view The Natural Beauty of Alabama gallery.