Subject matter and structural content

The first step in creating an exceptional photo is to select interesting content but in order to reach an advanced level of photography  you need to keep in mind that content is only one of the 5Cs.

There are two kinds of content to consider in every photo. "Content" usually refers to the literal subject matter being photographed. Much of the interest found in this photo comes directly from its subject matter. There is something special about this set of waterfalls.

In the next photo the subject matter is obscure and unimportant. As you can see from this abstract image, we can create an exceptional photo without relying on the literal subject matter.

Whether realistic or abstract, every image is filled with aesthetic elements or as I like to call it -  structural content. "Structural content" is not a term the art community uses as I do, but I think it is fitting and an important foundation for understanding how to create exceptional photos. The beautiful structural content is what makes this abstract photo appealing.   

You can create exceptional photos from ordinary subjects with interesting structural content

Generally speaking the more beautiful, the more unique, the more spectacular your subject matter, the more interesting a photo will be. If you are fortunate enough to travel the world you might encounter exotic and spectacular content often but if you are like most of us your photos will come from more ordinary subjects. The 5C Approach focuses on the skills for creating exceptional photos no matter what the subject.  When I photographed Alabama for my book I was confined to a state that has a lot of landscape diversity but little in the way of the spectacular. So I was forced to learn to get the most from what I had to work with.

This is not an abstract image but its  strength is certainly not spectacular subject matter. It is only grass, straw and seeds. The structural content is what makes it interesting. 

The structural content is made up of line, shape, value (tone), color, visual texture and form. When working with this subject I didn't think much about the subject matter. I thought about how to arrange and balance the individual elements of structural content in an interesting or beautiful way. I do the same thing whether I am working with grasses, a waterfall or an abstract.

No matter how unusual or how ordinary your subject matter, good structural content will make it more interesting.

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