3 Tips for Timeless Photos

Today, none of us will come across a spot color image (you know, the image of a cool car where everything is black and white, except the vehicle itself), and say to ourselves, "Wow! What a timeless photo!" Nope. It doesn't happen.

I am not saying that every image you create has to qualify as being 'timeless'. So, if you have shot your share of smoke bombs or sparklers, take no offense. I have made my own contributions to the trend pool. Sometimes it is fun just to play around, even with trends, and it is also important not to take ourselves too seriously.

I know. It seems a bit silly and it's not at all an inspiring image, but the example stands true. Since the dawn of man, we have all looked to the sky and seen clouds, and every single person that has seen them relates to them in their own way.

Anyways, let's start counting them:

1. Editing

Editing is arguably the biggest threat to timelessness today. Since digital technology came strutting onto the scene, we have been able to take an image, immediately transfer it to editing software and go ham. This isn't a bad thing, but it's all too easy to overdo it. Not that long ago, giving a "vintage" look to your images was trendy. The result was often muddy tones, grayed blacks, and poorly muted highlights.

So, what do you do? Well, obviously, if you use my Presets when editing your images, you're in no danger because the presets are designed to replicate actual films so very accurately that they have an inherent timeless quality to them. Beyond that, when editing for timelessness, naturalness is key. Don't overcorrect skin or make eyes bling and sparkle like a disco ball. Keep it natural. If you think you may have overdone it, you probably did. Step away from the edit and come back later to look at it.

Below is an example work of mine. This photo is edited with my Clean Lightroom Presets and available with my BUNDLE.

2. Location

I love finding new locations and I love locations that have meaning to my clients. I, however, am not limited to only creating portraits in beautiful, well-known spaces. So, if we have to change gears last minute, or you’re not sure where you want your portraits set, no worries! I’ll outline your location/timeline and hey, if we have to make images in a downtown parking lot (see below!), they’ll still be rockin’ and timeless!

3. Noise

If there are too many things going on around the subject, even if they all matter to the story, chaos strikes in the eye of the viewer and there are no clear paths for the eyes to follow. It comes down to balance. You can have many things going on, but they need to balance one another out, maintaining the ultimate focus on the subject.

If you're photographing someone in a busy scene or environment, be aware of how the lines and colors of the area affect the outcome of the image.

Below is an image comparison that shows too busy and plain examples. The noisy image doesn't work. However, if you check out the second image, it really is timeless...

Less is more.

Noisy Portrait
Noisy Portrait

Plain&Timeless Portrait
Plain&Timeless Portrait

When striving to create timeless photos, your goal is to make an image that in ten, twenty, or more years down the road, a complete stranger can't quite pinpoint when it was made, yet it still captures their attention. I hope these guidelines help do that.

If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting me and my website by Buying me a Frap., or if you are into Lightroom Presets, get my Bundle instead.