Making 'Pretty' Photographs Out of Not-So-Pretty Objects

How to Capture the Nitty-Gritty Elements of the Real World

by Matthew A. Bamberg

Not Pretty Made Pretty
Not Pretty Made Pretty
© Matthew A. Bamberg
All Rights Reserved
And, in the long run, these works end up in museums and galleries. Think
Dorthea Lange's images of people suffereing during the Depression or Robert
Mapplethorpe's self portraits. All were riviting, filled with meaning...and not

One need not turn to suffering for their subject matter, but, instead, turn
to ordinary objects such as a stack of old newspapers, a bullfrog or snake
and other not-pretty things to turn pretty. Try shooting these objects at
different angles to bring out color and/or close-up to bring out detail.

Photoset 2 0f 2
Photoset 2 0f 2
© Matthew A. Bamberg
All Rights Reserved

Tips to Fnd the Not-So-Pretty-Turned-Pretty Photo Ops...

1. Texture - sharp objects, itchy animal close-ups, smooth as in a reptile,
scaly as in a puffer fish.

2. Smell - a skunk, anything gaseous, smoke, text such as Yum or Yuck.

3. Sight - anything that looks like a monster, abondoned vehicles,
impoverished parts of town.

4. Hearing - using text such as choo, choo, hmmm, ouch, a hand scratching a
blackboard, any musical instrument.

5. Taste - a bottle of Pepto Bismo or horseradish, brocolli, a close up of a
tongue with any type of food on it.

When taking a photo look for things that are powerful adjectives such as
sharp (as in ouch), faded, ancient, crushed, smashed, broken, battered, crude.

I'm sure you have your own ideas of making the ugly beautiful.'s photography education

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Article by Matthew A. Bamberg. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at