This is a guest post from our friend, Jon Bailey. Check out the bottom of the post to get some free stuff from his company, Lightstock.

Let’s start by defining “cheese.”
Cheese: a food made from the pressed curds of milk.

That sounds disgusting. Just hearing the words “Pressed curds of milk” makes me want to vomit a little. Honestly, that’s the majority of the way I feel when I see Christian photography. Why does it have to be this way? You know, there was a time when Christians excelled in the creative arts. Look at the cathedrals, paintings, and literature through the centuries. There have been many bright spots.

This is a passionate plea to shoot photos that capture the essence of Christian faith. Photos that actually represent our spirituality in context and culture. When that happens people respond.

Have a design project around the corner? Let me share 5 quick reasons to say ‘NO’ to cheesy photos.

1. Say no to photos that are void of creativity.
The definition of creative is: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Unleashing the imagination to create something original is what I’m talking about. If you’re not engaging your imagination in a deep and meaningful way then don’t even bother.

2. Say no to photos that look touristy.
Composition is key. Composition means the art of putting things together. Think of yourself as a Culinary artist bringing unique ingredients together to serve up a delicious meal. Your ingredients include the subject, negative space, lighting, focal length, etc. The quickest way to break the back of crummy-composition is to get on the ground with your camera and start start shooting. Unique vantage points always help eliminate the cheese.

3. Say no to photos that look like they were taken in the 80s.
Avoid hyper trends and fashions in your photography. Especially a really dated wardrobe from your subjects. And if you’re going to shoot something out of Biblical times, make sure the costuming actually matches the time period. You need heavy wools that are ragged and torn. Not just a white table cloth and a piece of twine. Pay attention to wardrobe.

4. Say no to photos that mix lighting.
Don’t mix! When it comes to photography there are two basic types of light: natural light (sunlight) and artificial light (flashes/studio lights). Make sure that if you’re inside you turn the lights off and take the shot next to some big windows. Or if you want artificial lights then black out the windows. This will give you a consistent look. And lastly and most important…

5. Say no to photos that show little thoughtfulness or care.
Simply put, they’re lazy. They don’t take into consideration the intelligence of the audience. Jony Ive, creative mastermind at Apple, described this principle when talking about the Apple products he designs. “We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects”, says Ive. “It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them. But what we’ve shown is that people do care. It’s not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made.” Thoughtfulness and care take time and energy. When you sit down to shoot or design, think about your end-user. How does your creation add value to their life?

So, that cheese definition one more time…
Cheese: a food made from the pressed curds of milk.

Makes your stomach turn a little doesn’t it? Do you know what curds mean? It’s a white congealed substance that occurs when milk sours. This is why you have to say ‘NO’ to using cheesy photos in your next design. They sour your work and they make people want to upchuck.

We can agree that’s not what art does. Art elevates. Art lifts us higher into the things of God. It’s the expression of the human soul. It’s our creative skill and imagination elevating and displaying the beauty of God and His creation.

Jon Bailey
Apprentice of Jesus + Husband + Dad + Serial Entrepreneur. Co-founder @Lightstock. Board member @Renovareusa. Follow me @jonathanrbailey

Free Stuff Alert: Here’s 10 Free Credits to Lightstock

We’re thrilled to let you know that our friends and partners, Lightstock.com, are giving away 10 free credits to everyone who signs up using, the link below. If you haven’t already heard about Lightstock, they’re the ones who are putting an end to cheesy Christian stock photography.

If you use stock photos in your designs or blog posts then Lightstock is something you should definitely check out.

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