If I had to limit my comments to just one helpful critique to amateur photographers world-wide, it would be this; “Quit focusing on the ‘story’, and instead focus on the exclamation point!”
Too often, the compositions of amateur photographers include far far too much stuff, and in the process, that ONE THING that was the cause of their visual excitement to begin with, gets reduced to a whisper, having to now share the compositional stage with many other voices competing for the viewer’s attention.
When we make a concerted effort to compose ONLY that one thing, it’s as if we are placing an emphasis only on the exclamation point, sentence be damned.
And you know what? That’s a great habit to get into!!!
Both of these images (2nd image below) are all about a hand-picked bouquet of yellow flowers, yet only the vertical composition clearly conveys that bouquet in the loudest voice. Move closer and/or change lenses, but start getting into the habit of exclaiming your excitement by composing ONLY the exclamation point!
I don’t know about you, but the two hardest things I’ve ever had to photograph are kids and dogs, and photographing both together can be problematic.
It’s stressful enough when you’re shooting for a client whose paying you a lot of money to deliver the goods, but when you’re shooting just for the family album, the level of anxiety goes way over the top!!! Self-medicating is one way to overcome the angst, and especially any misgivings as to why you accepted the challenge in the first place; even a self imposed challenge can occasionally strain the nervous system.
Sure, any fast acting Benzodiazepines such as: Valium, Xanax, Klonopin or Ativan would probably do the trick, but for those photographers that would rather take a healthier more organic approach, I’ve got just the thing for you. It’s very simple and over the counter.
First, I figure out where I want to shoot. Not just the location, but where I want to stand in relation to the sun to get the right light; whether it’s side or back light . Then I shoot several frames without anyone in it to get the proper exposure. The odds are that I probably won’t get more than one shot, or be able to bracket before whatever it is that happens doesn’t ever happen again.
Once I’m satisfied with the exposure, I place the kids and dogs exactly where I took the readings, and let them do whatever it is that kids and dogs do without direction from me. I’ve found that over the years, trying to give any direction is very close to being a pure waste of time. The best I would be able to do is have their attention for a couple of minutes before they’re done with me.
What I’m basically doing is to set it up as best I can and then shoot more of a reportage style and creating the illusion that I just got lucky.
In my online class with the BPSOP, I always get at least one photo of a grandkid and or their dog…or both. Two things I suggest to them for submitting a photo filled with frustration: One, to pay the kid something. After all you are taking up his time so why not offer to give him/her something. The pay scale will obviously depend on their age, for example a young grandchild that now understands what money is and can do, a quarter or two might work; maybe even a dollar. As they get older the pay increases porportionally. Try offering a middle school or a teenager a quarter and see what happens!!!
Two, the dog is somewhat easier, a treat will usually do the trick…at any age.
In my next post I’ll talk about my fellow photographers that sign up for one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops, and how to photographic kids and dogs while traveling.
Many photographers have a favorite aperture. Mine is f/2.8. Why? Because it allows me to tell a story…
Image: Brit Hammer. Shot at f/2.8 using Sony RX-100 mkIII
Image: Brit Hammer. Shot at f/2.8 using Sony RX-100 mkIII
Do your eyes go first to the plants in the foreground, then to the person standing in the blurry background? Do you wonder what that figure is looking at?
Using a shallow depth of field (DOF) is one way you can tell a story.
How, you ask? A shallow DOF allows you to have a primary subject in the foreground and a secondary subject in the background. By alluding to a secondary subject, shown blurry in the background, you engage the viewer and get them wondering about what the story might be.
In these examples the figures are looking away from the camera, but what if they were doing something, such as walking toward the camera or perhaps holding something?
This week, experiment with having a secondary subject blurry in the background. Play with the idea and see what stories you can tell!
If you shoot cityscapes, try putting a primary subject in focus in the foreground with the cityscape acting as the secondary subject in your background. In the below example, the LCD of my camera is my primary subject, and the NYC skyline forms the background.
Image: Brit Hammer. Shot at f/2.8 (-2.3 EV) with Sony RX-100 mkIII
Telling a story can be done in a single image…or in a combination of images. It’s up to you!
Are your shots inconsistent? Or have you gotten bored with your photography? Join Brit’s Photography Essentials class (or any of her three other courses here at BPSOP, for that matter!) Brit explains everything simply and clearly.
Even if you’ve been photographing for a while, Photography Essentials will help you get great shots consistently.
All of Brit’s classes are easy and fun. So if your friends or family enjoy photography, have them sign up with you!
This post is one in a series on how to create a sense of place.
CASE STUDY: SEASIDE ADVENTURE
Next time you’re taking photos on holiday or during a celebration, include detail shots to flesh out your story. Details shots, when added together with photos of people, help show the mood of your scene.
Have a look at the images in this case study:
Man standing by seaside
Do you see how each image tells part of the story and shows only one idea? This is how you help create a sense of place.
Each images is a single idea. When you combine several, a story is created.
TIPS TO GREAT DETAIL SHOTS:
Vary the camera angle in each shot. Shoot up, down, out, across, or through a subject.
Frame your subject tightly to omit clutter. Reveal part of the subject.
Ever wonder if the craziness of your life is, indeed, worth celebrating? The answer is a resounding YES!
Start taking images that that look like they came out of a glossy magazine.
This course focuses on the creative side of photography. You’ll learn how to capture images of your everyday life in a fresh and exciting way.
Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2 takes you further by focusing on capturing the essence of your loved ones — think about the little things that you’ll always remember, such as how they hold their favorite coffee mug in their hands!
Do you wish you had images of your loved ones that capture who they are as a person? What about a series of images that portray your life as nicely as a wedding photographer portrays a wedding?
Get ready to have fun creating lifestyle photos that you can’t wait to share with your friends and family.
This course delves into creative ways to capture even mundane moments and beautifully photograph even camera-shy loved ones. They’ll finally stop saying they don’t like seeing themselves in photos!