What is a timeless photo?

Timeless according to Cambridge Dictionary

Something that is timeless does not change as the years go past

Hence a timeless piece of art, as a photograph, is something which would have the same viewing experience always without time and years effecting its value.

Like a delicious pizza which would taste as good even in 2090 maybe. Timeless FOOD!

Anyway, A very good example of a timeless and most recognisable photo is of Abraham Lincoln.

If you haven’t come across this photo of His, you might be an alien who just arrived on earth and reading my blog. Thank you!

Made by Alexander Gardner in 1863

Why is a timeless photo so powerful?

A timeless photo is extremely powerful majorly due to the following 3 logical qualities

  • Its instantly recognisable
  • Its not forgettable
  • It remains unaffected by time

How to make a timeless photo?

Even though timeless pieces of art are mostly related to arts and its about aesthetics and artistic value, blah blah blah, There is a logical reason as to why a photo or any piece of art becomes timeless. And those are exactly the 3 points mentioned above. That is the key to making a timeless photo

1. Its instantly recognisable

This is one of the major logical reason for a piece of art to be timeless. No one is going to recognise your Persian cat no matter how cute it is compared to not so cute dog of Paris Hilton, or the Hutch dog (If you are from India).

Well seriously though, recognisable is “easy”, places (Eiffel Tower), people (Abraham Lincoln! ?), their things (Winston Churchill’s Cigar?), their unique fashion (Chanel), theres literally something recognisable that can be added to any photo, or anyone, photographed at any place. And this does not only apply to portrait photography.

2. Its unforgettable

This is the Artistic & Creative reason. Which can be broke into logical science. Its unforgettable! how do we do that is not as simple as the first point. Making an unforgettable photo is not easy. Its a mixture of

  • Composition
  • Lighting
  • The story that photo speaks

And all of these are the toughest aspects of photography to master. I never said making a timeless photo was easy 😛

This point can be a topic of its own, in fact a book of its own. But if you can master the above three aspects, you are good to make an unforgettable photo. Again all these three aspects are very logical if we were to break them into logical studies or their science

Maybe ill write about them someday

3. It remains unaffected by time

This is kind of easy but requires a lot of time and research. There are certain things that don’t change over a very long period of time. And by including these in the photos, (or excluding them wisely) you will almost instantly add the timelessness in your photo.


Majority of timeless photos are of people (Portraits) because faces don’t change so often. What I mean is, we humans, the way we look now is similar since thousands of years. The early man (Which “looked” like a monkey) is very long back. And considering famous people, the time that they are famous, they almost remain similar looking. There are only a few exceptions like Miley Cyrus who that it looks like two different people if you see before and current photos, both being in the time of their fame.


Clothing like Suits & Wedding dresses haven’t changed in decades! well technically they did, but the overall look of them haven’t changed for such a long time. So you aren’t going to make a timeless photo of a person in a baggy jeans and T shirt three times the size of that person. Such fashion gets outdated in only a couple years.


There are so many places that haven’t overall changed so much in such a long time. The area of London eye is one good example of that.


There are things like guns, walking sticks, cigars and cigarettes (not promoting smoking here), tables and chairs, Fountain Pens, Books, etc. which haven’t changed much overall since almost centuries.

Lets Study Abraham Lincoln’s Portrait


1. its Instantly Recognisable


Abraham Lincoln!!! Do I need to introduce him? No! and this is a big “YES” for a timeless photo


2. Its unforgettable


Its a classic portrait composition. Representing perfectly who Abraham Lincoln is. His structure.


A classic almost 45º Loop Lighting which again gives a very clear picture of how Abraham Lincoln Looked and his straight expression (an expression that someone would most likely see him in, in reality)

The Story

This is one of the most recognisable photos of Abraham Lincoln and in fact considered the best photo of his by many scholars, which best represents his personality because most of his photos were full length & 3/4th. This however is a closeup and gives the exact representation of the minute details of his face and expression. As if he is directly looking at the viewer. His gaze so powerful that it instantly becomes “unforgettable”

3. It remains unaffected by time


Suit. A simple suit with a tie, which is almost similar to how this dressing looks in 2017. This photograph was made in 1863. That is how timeless a suit is.


This photo doesn’t give an idea of the place, since its a plain background. This, as mentioned previously, is a wise way of excluding recognisable aspects of a photo to maintain its timelessness.

Imagine this same portrait in front of some Mc Donalds, which doesn’t exist now? ? Kills it right?

And thats how you create a timeless photo!

Let me know in the comments if I forgot anything and your views. Hope it was a good read! 😀