If You Want to Take More Interesting Pictures…


Over the holiday break, I happened to be looking through my journal, thinking about the goals and objectives that I want to achieve this year when I came across this note that I had taken in a seminar with Jay Maisel:

“If you want to make more interesting pictures, become a more interesting person.”

Jay’s words proved to be the motivation I was looking for. The day before, I had noticed a barren tree across a river that I thought would make an interesting photograph. But at the time, we were in a hurry to get where we were going, so we kept on driving. The following day was really cold and I was very content to stay warm and cozy in the house. However, while I would have enjoyed reading a book or watching a movie, it would have meant consuming someone else’s content instead of taking the opportunity to create my own. So, with Jay’s words refusing to leave my mind, we grabbed our boots, coats, and hats and drove back in search of that tree.

We found the location easily enough, and to my surprise, the river had frozen over during the night creating beautiful patterns on the ice – it was even better than I had imagined from the previous day’s “drive-by”.

One of the things that I like to do when I photograph, is make sure that I don’t stop with “one and done” especially as I don’t feel I’m as good at capturing wide-angle scenes. Instead, I prefer to focus instead on smaller, tighter subjects where the scale of the photograph maybe seem slightly mysterious for the viewer. I find that if I’m patient and stand in the same spot for a few moments, images start to reveal themselves and, sure enough, interesting patterns in the ice began to catch my eye.

Next, I moved in for some close-ups to see if I could capture the details in the ice.

Growing up in California, I have to admit that I’ve always thought of snow as something that you “go to” in order to ski. Turns out, ice is slipperier than it looks. One misstep along an icy riverbank and you can quickly find yourself in the water. Instead of foolishly tempting fate by trying to get out on the ice, I opted to changed my perspective by walking along a bridge and photographing the frozen river from above.

At the end of the day, I found the images of the ice to be much more interesting than the photographs I made of the tree. And hopefully my adventure made me a more interesting person as well. : )

Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and  realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you thought you were looking for. —Lawerence Block

Here’s to a life filled with less consuming and more creating.

(By the way, if you ever have a chance to listen to Jay speak about photography, do it! His work is iconic, he calls it like it he sees it, and he’s (most likely) influenced your photography- even without you knowing it!)


Posted on 01-18-2018


  • By Photo Tours South America - 5:49 AM on January 18, 2018  

    Very nice suggestion Ms Kost! There’s beauty in the smallest and confined corners of our habitat, it’s only a matter to find them and properly observe them.
    Thank you for the images

  • By Tom Smith - 6:25 AM on January 18, 2018  

    It’s amazing what you can come up with you “think outside of the box”. Great advice and beautiful shots, Julianne!

  • By Silvina - 6:42 AM on January 18, 2018  

    I really love your work!

  • By paul - 6:53 AM on January 18, 2018  

    Nice images and thoughts. Love the quote by Block.

  • By jim West - 8:36 AM on January 18, 2018  

    Really GREAT post. I thought I was the only one!!!! It is so great to see your creativity and to see how much you love image making. Best to you as always. Jim West

  • By William Klemens - 10:48 AM on January 18, 2018  

    Probably just a coincidence that today is Jay’s 76th birthday.

  • By Andreas - 11:33 AM on January 18, 2018  

    I’m gonna have to agree with the previous comment… in particular the colors are awesome, capturing the wintry feel beautifully. What’s the LR/PS magic?

  • By Randall Kaye - 12:23 PM on January 18, 2018  

    According to Wikipedia, he’s 87 years of age today. I, too, attended his workshop, 6.5 years ago…. inspiring and invaluable, my experience with Jay continues to inform my work.

  • By Richard Battilana - 1:51 PM on January 18, 2018  


    I’m in a new camera club where I’m learning break the old paradigms and perceive subjects more artistically.

    Your episode is right on the mark for where I am. I’m passing it around.

    THANK YOU very much

  • By Margaret Fegent - 4:39 PM on January 18, 2018  

    Beauty in the small things – wonderful!

  • By Brenda Delores Poole - 5:20 AM on January 19, 2018  

    I find Jay’s thought extremely challenging. Intentionally looking at the parts also Julienne was inspiring.

  • By David Jones - 2:28 PM on January 19, 2018  

    Interesting! I’ve always thought you were very interesting,,,, 🙂
    I like Jay’s quote but I like your quote even better.

    “… it would have meant consuming someone else’s content instead of taking the opportunity to create my own.” Julian Kost

  • By Craig Beyers - 8:38 AM on January 22, 2018  

    As always, interesting AND lovely images. And, yes, Work The Space past your initial insight and vision. Thanks.

  • By Erik Heyninck - 11:35 PM on January 22, 2018  

    Thank you for sharting this beauty.. Jay’s quote is indeed great but what really touched me was: “However, while I would have enjoyed reading a book or watching a movie, it would have meant consuming someone else’s content instead of taking the opportunity to create my own”
    That is something we should always remember.

  • By Robert Dettman - 5:44 PM on January 29, 2018  

    I don’t think you have to worry too much about being an interesting person Julieanne. And thanks for the quotations. They have been added to my ever expanding list.