The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Placing Photography

The subject is the essence of your photograph. Two photographers can stand at the same spot, at the same time, looking at the same scene and choosing completely different subjects.

The subject you choose and where you place it determines your final result. But how do you choose a photography subject? And how do you know where to place it in the frame?

What Is Subject in Photography?

The subject is basically what the photograph is about. If you look at images or even other pieces of art, you will notice that they have something or someone in focus.

A subject is the person, creature or object that the photographer wants to draw attention to. This can be something unique, or an object that is popping out of its environment.

But your subject doesn’t necessarily need to be something extraordinary everyday objects such as a chair or a window can make fantastic photography subjects, too.

In portrait photography, this would be a person. In food photography, it’s a dish or a food item. In wildlife photography, it could be a chimpanzee sitting on a tree.

There are photography genres which almost always have more subjects in one image. Think about travel photography, where subjects often include famous monuments and people.

Or sports photography, which often captures the whole sports team instead of just one player. In landscape photography, the subject can be a mountain, a tree, a beach or even all three of them.

In the above photography types, it’s usually easy to recognise the subject.

But think about surreal or abstract photography. These niches don’t always showcase recognizable objects. So, in these cases, the photography subject is the pattern, the texture or even the colors.

We need to distinguish between a photography subject and a photography object. A photograph can have many objects in the frame. What turns them into subjects is the way they are placed or highlighted by the photographer.

In other words, an object becomes a photography subject if the photographer gives it additional meaning.

How to Choose a Subject for Your Photograph?

Choosing a subject isn’t always as easy as it might sound.

There are cases where the subject of your photograph is already chosen. If you are a portrait photographer, your subject will be the person whose portrait you are about to capture.

As a wedding photographer, you have to focus on the bride, the groom, the guests, the wedding ring and the cake. You have a wide range of possible subjects. But you cannot start taking photos of the waiters, for example.

In other cases, you have the creative freedom to choose your subject to your liking. However, this freedom can sometimes be more frustrating than having an assigned subject.

It happens to me often that I go out to take photos, and I come home without snapping a single picture. The pressure of having to take a picture blinds me from seeing potential subjects.

However, when I go on a casual stroll or a run, I stumble upon photography subjects all the time. That’s why I always have with me too. This way, I’m ready to shoot whenever an interesting subject appears.

Of course, there are ways to train your creative muscle and eyes to find a subject. Professional photographers choose subjects that trigger their interest and inspire them. It can be anything from a raindrop.

You can find inspiration by checking out the works of famous photographers as well.

Remember that the most essential thing is that the subject has to be inspiring for you. If you don’t find your subject interesting, nobody else will.