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Photograph a Single Theme

Updated on April 7, 2015

Many photographic books will focus on a theme or genre and they will include many different vistas of subjects within this genre.

General photographic subjects which do very good when made into a book can be nature, landscapes, portraits, macros, still life, street photography, nudes, weddings and so on.

Indeed many of these books are written or composed by very talented photographers and they are very successful. But there is another way of composing a book or doing a project which solely focuses on one main subject.

We are not saying that a photographer has to take many photographs of the exact same subject and write a book around this one individual subject, but that the emphasis of the project can be done around one type of subjects; volcanoes, cloud formations,roses, one color flowers, one type of car, bees, monarch butterflies etc.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

What do you think of this project?

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Lets say that for example you happen to like taking photographs of canoes on lakes, rivers or any body of water where these fanciful floating devices are regularly used.

You locate several subjects of the same type and general make as well as perhaps many different colorations. You then proceed to take several images that depict these subjects and compose a book detailing where they wee found, how they are used, talk about the choices in their color schemes, how much they cost to make, rent ,buy and so on.

If your images are found to be appealing by anyone interested in canoes, then you are almost guaranteed a sale. The downside is that although there are many people who have one thing that they find very attractive and in which they are very interest in, people who buy photographic books mostly tend to get ones which offer many different views of many different subjects so your potential for larger sales can be very restricted.

However the purpose of this project is not so much to make a sale but to showcase your photographic talents and after all you would be doing a project based on a niche topic.


These single subject images do not always have to be used in the production of a book. Many talented photographic artists take several shots of one main subject and use these images in a fine art gallery presentation. Indeed the best sellers are often one subject shows.

Perhaps the appeal of this type of photography is that it offers the viewer a gallery of the history of a topic. Several images of the same subject along with similar images of the same subject type are found to be attractive because they offer a complete visual history of them and many people who are interested in these subjects find this style of visual history to be very tempting.

This is just as if a coin collector or a collector of antique dolls would find a photographic history of the particular types of coins or dolls he or she collects very appealing as well as informative.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Another effect or result of doing a one subject project is that if used in the production of a book then this book will probably very limited in the number of pages that it can have instead of being much larger like a general photographic one, thus the sale price tends to be much less.

If used for an art gallery presentation the same thing happens so far as the number of prints that are displayed but as opposed to a book price, single subjects prints tend to fetch much higher prices mostly due to being "one of a kind" images of a very selective subject presentation.

Take for example the works of Monet, Picasso or any other famous painter. Their single representation of a scene or vista sell for a much higher amount that if there are several works of the same vista or scene, even if done differently.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Something else to be very aware of is that if you are going to do a project that focuses on one subject, then the images have to be of exceptional quality and this includes variations on the angles of view, the perspectives, the lighting and the composition as well.

Not to mention that they must also be of exceptional technical quality too.

Probably the best way to approach this type of project is to do it from the mindset of learning; in other words, do the project as a way of practicing your photographic skills, learning how light affects the scene, how angles and perspectives can make the same subject take on a different "life" and thus examine what you can learn from the exercise.

Many professionals do something similar when they approach any subject. They usually take hundreds of pictures of the same subject, they examine each and every image and thus have the ability of only picking the most superior ones which in turn almost always guarantees them a sale.

Amateurs often end up snapping one or maybe two images of one particular subject before they walk away in search of their next photographic "prey".

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      AM Fredenburg: Actually that is one aspect of it and also a teaching method. Thanks

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 

      4 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      I can see how this project would make a great learning experiment; photographing one subject in depth could lead to expanded awareness of the subject. Thanks!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      tamron: Thank you very much

    • tamron profile image


      4 years ago

      Good suggestion for photographers. I love to take pictures of the outdoors. Great Hub & Shared

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Funkarkhalid: thank you

    • Funkarkhalid profile image

      Khalid Ahmed 

      4 years ago from Lucknow

      Very interesting hub and of course good suggestion for photographers to consider taking on a single subject. but for me, when I move out with my camera, there are so so many subject which force me to indulge in shooting any thing which generates the feeling of curiosity .

      Next time, I'll try to take on single subject as suggested by you.Thanks for sharing.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      jainismus: thank you

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      4 years ago from Pune, India

      Yes, this is an interesting subject. I like to take photographs of One object. Recently I have taken many photographs of clouds in sky and going to write a hub on it.

      Thank you for sharing the information explaining the subject.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ralph Deeds: Thanks. Try focusing on the bikes to show detail without being ridden. Alternatively you can take stills and add the wheel motion digitally along with a "moving" digital background.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      4 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Nice Hub. Interesting ideas. I have thousands of pictures of sailboats. Some have been published in sailing magazines, many others on the Internet. I also like to do portraits. I've considered doing motorcycle riders, but it's hard for me to drive and take pictures of motorcycle riders on expressways at 70 mph.


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