Less Can Be More 

Sometimes less is more…

Photographers are often advised to move closer to their subjects in order to fill the image frame because too much negative space around a subject will lessen the photo’s impact. This rule works well when what you are trying to say is expressed primarily through your point of interest. But it doesn’t work if what you are trying to say is expressed by a relationship between your subject and the surrounding space.

For example, if you are shooting an animal, you may want to back up and show habitat, or the environment of a particular flower, or it’s relationship to other flowers. You may want to use a small subject with a large surrounding area to show scale and help to define that subject. When shooting a portrait, you might want to show the person’s environment too. So, the size of your subject in the frame should be determined by what you are trying to say, the story you want to tell, not by any rule! If in doubt, shoot your subject both ways, work it!

Here are some examples of photos I’ve made where I didn’t choose to fill the frame. Try this the next time you are out shooting. Be sure that your subject is strong enough visually for this type of composition, and that the environment you are including adds to the scene.

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Kathleen Clemons

Kathleen Clemons

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Maine Lobsterboat Heading into the Fog

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One last aed autumn leaf remains on tree branches

One last red autumn leaf remains on tree branches

A red skiff sits beached on the shore at low tide

A red skiff sits beached on the shore at low tide

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Happy Shooting!

Kathleen Clemons / BPSOP Instructor

Kathleen is teaching:

Fine Art Nature Photography

Fine Art Nature Photography 2- the Sequel

Fine Art Nature Photography 3

Capturing the Beauty of Flowers

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Making Money with People in Your Images

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I have been shooting stock photography all around the world for many years and get asked by many people the same question. What is the best subject to focus on to make money when shooting stock. One of the things that I stress the most is the importance of finding people for your images. The best selling photographs at just about any stock agency worldwide usually have people in the images. These are the most sought out images from so many advertisers all over and they need people of all ethnicities and looks for their images. These images, although not always the easiest ones to capture, can produce some of the top money making images for anyone with a desire to make money from their photos.

At my course here at BPSOP, Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face, I focus on how to photograph people many different ways to capture who they really are. Being able to shoot people with good compostion, backgrounds and finding the best light is essential for getting great images of people. But this is only the beginning and shooting people for stock you not only have to be great at capturing faces but be very creative at the same time.

Probably the top category for shooting people for stock is Lifestyles. Some examples of lifestyle images are of family, work, success, happiness, the future, reliability, trust, food, time, teamwork, winning, competition, money, culture, conceptual ideas, school, education, computers and so many more. It can cover so many aspects of normal everyday life and these are probably the most needed images for so many stock agencies worldwide. However, you need to think outside the box as well when shooting people and coming up with great ideas is key to shooting people for stock. There are endless categories and ideas but getting great faces to pose for you is the first step.

I love finding people that have the right look on the street locally or especially when I travel….and I ask them if they would want to model for me. I let them know that I will pay them or give them photographs in exchange and most of the time they say they would like to. Many of my students express to me how hard it is to get up the courage to ask strangers to pose for them… but in time it gets easier.

At first, it is a little intimidating to walk up to someone you do not know and ask them if you can photograph them but you will get better at it the more you do it. Having a business card with a good photograph on it will make you look more professional and help them know that you are probably pretty good at what you do and having a good looking website is also essential! Persistence does pay off and if they think that they might also get some great shots of the shoot, it might be worth all the effort. Don’t give up easily as getting the right people in your images will help you build a great image bank.

Below are four shots from a shoot I did on the campus of UCLA, where I also teach photography. I had met these two adorable Korean girls and their parents in a video store and fell in love with them. I gave them a business card and they looked at my website and then later called me to set up a shoot. They were amazing to photograph and I ended up getting some great shots from the shoot that day. Many of the shots are just typical everyday kind of poses and these kinds of images do well for big and small stock agencies. These are typical lifestyle situations and when you set them up…you try and make them look as realistic as possible and not too posed. You will wind up with many winners if you think of good set ups and locations.

Getting people in your viewfinder is the key to money making images if you ever want to pursue shooting stock. However, don’t forget to have them sign model releases or else those images will not be worth as much as they could. Model releases are the key to stock when shooting people and end up keeping you and your agencies safe from possible lawsuits that can occur. Shooting photos of people of every age and nationality is the key to making real money in stock and this is what I focus on here at home and when I travel abroad. I have to think of many ways to capture people and I end up making shot lists of my ideas and I make contact sheets with photos also for ideas that I take with me on locations and also show to my subjects.

Creativity is the key for successful images and you have to be thinking all the time to create images that will make money.

The following images below will give you some ideas of what you can do with the right subjects. I am constantly thinking of every aspect of getting the perfect image for stock and finding and using great subjects is probably what I focus on more than anything else. Trying to come up with fresh ideas and perfecting those ideas will get you noticed. Getting the right people for those images and photographing them in unique situations, in the right composition and with great light is the key to making money from your images in the stock world.

All my best,
Scott Stulberg
Instructor BPSOP.com

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An Invitation To Linger

Understanding all that there is to know about composition is a topic you could easily write a whole book about. The basics of composition are the same for everyone, and are something that should be given some thought when lining up your photo through the viewfinder. Now that we have identified our subject and moved to a position that made the best use of the light, and are mentally prepared with all the basics we have learned, we can look through the viewfinder and compose our shot. But a bigger question is how do we make our viewer linger for a while in our image?

In its simplest terms, composition is simply composing the picture so that the subject is highlighted as the main focus of the image. You’ll usually want your subject to be the center of attention in the frame, making a stronger statement. You’ll often hear photographers saying to “fill the frame with the subject”. It is a good guideline to keep in mind.

Beautiful scenery doesn’t always mean beautiful photos. The beauty of nature inspires us to record moment and images but we must learn to focus on making powerful and meaningful photographs. We have to go beyond just recording the beauty of the natural world and become part of the creative process. We have to learn how to take a mixture of elements of design and create an image that will inspire and move people and make them want to spend time appreciating our unique view.

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Look Down

Start with what’s at your feet. Look at the foreground. Foreground can be great in leading the viewer’s eye through the scene and giving them a sense of being there or perspective. We want to transport viewers to our magical find. Not just anything will do. It needs to be interesting and lead the viewer on a journey through our image. Leading lines, curves, shapes will lead the eye on that journey. So take a walk around and scout out those interesting foreground elements.

Notice in this image how I found a leading line with the rock? It invites the viewer and points the way for them to take a walk along the path into the beautiful, lush, & foggy forest in the mountains of North Carolina.

Leading elements can be powerful so be careful and don’t choose leading elements that lead the viewer out of the image or cause confusion. Make sure the foreground lead to something important in the background. Leading elements work best when they “flow” through the foreground, starting outside of the bottom of the frame or corners, flowing through the foreground into the middle and back ground.

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For this shot of Looking Glass Falls in North Carolina, I got low in the creek to capture the small cascade of water as it travels down the river from the waterfall and placed it in the bottom right hand corner so that it would “flow” from the image.

Get Up Close and Personal
Sometimes interesting foregrounds mean getting close. Let the elements dominate the area closest to the viewer. Wide angle lenses are great for this. Don’t be afraid to get right up on the foreground with the wide angle. It will allow you to get close to an interesting foreground and incorporate the rest of the scene as well. It will also give a sense of depth to the image. I would recommend f/16 or f/22 for sharpness throughout the scene. HOWEVER, you can get creative here with a limited depth of field. Remember there are no rules!

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The lush ferns along a trail on Roan Mountain, TN dominate the foreground in this image. I got on my knees inside the ferns with a wide angel lens for this shot.

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In Provence, France these yellow flowers dominate the foreground and the lines of lavender in the background add depth to the image.

Look for a Fresh Perspective
Look for opportunities that haven’t been done before. In landscapes, look for less popular spots. Stray from the masses and look for something unique. To make a unique image think to yourself: How can I make this image better? Can I reveal something unique or exciting about the subject? How can I find a unique angle and do something different?

Work each image and opportunity. One click of the shutter leads to another so try different approaches, angles, viewpoints etc. Start with the obvious, then concentrate on a different way to photograph it. Push beyond mental barriers as much as you can. Work the subject, take a break and then try again.

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In this image I photographed Glen Falls in North Carolina from behind the fall, a unique viewpoint.

Create Visual Flow
The camera “freezes” a moment but don’t let your image appear lifeless. Learn to impart a sense of motion, energy and life into your images. Visual Flow is a way of creating the illusion of a 3D perspective and motion into our images. It can create energy and a sense of visual excitement to your photos. It captures dynamic energy, creating an illusion of movement and energy.

There are many ways to create visual flow. Most common are using composition, color, shape & long exposures. It does require the ability to see abstractly and to pre-visualize the scene. It can be difficult and takes practice. To move the viewer’s eye through your image is the goal. It will make the viewer want to stay there a while and come back for many more visits!

Certain shapes help with visual flow. Curves can give scene elegance. Zig-zags create energy by forcing the viewer’s eye back and forth. Circles can trap the viewer’s eye holding interest for a longer period of time. Lines and triangles point the eye. Long exposures captures create a sense of movement and give a sense of movement over time. Flowing water is a good example but there are moving clouds or moving flowers etc. that imply motion also.

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Curved lines of the slow flowing water and shapes of the rocks in the Great Smoky Mountains create energy and motion.

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The lines and shape of the rocks at Roan Mountain, TN give the image a sense of motion and leads the viewer’s eyes into the image.

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The flowing motion of the clouds is what captured my interest in this scene in Acadia National Park along with the shape of the rocks matching the shape of the clouds!

Color can create visual flow too. Transitions such as warm to cool or light to shadow can sometimes really add interest. Color and contrasts and transitions of color can be effective in creating energy in a photo.

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In this image of Dry Falls in North Carolina on a Fall day, the transition of warm to cool creates visual flow along with the slow motion of the waterfall.

These are just a few concepts to improve composition and to attract and engage your viewers. It may take just a few moments to understand these concepts but a much longer time to master them. The more you practice, the more you will develop a deep understanding and then the more successful your compositions will become!

All My Best,
Donna Eaton
Instructor/ BPSOP.com

Donna is teaching Photography After Dark

Shooting in the Rain

 

taking photos in the rain

We have all been in a situation like this: you get to a prominent tourist spot ready to make some classic images. And it rains. Disappointment as you only have a day so so there and it looks like the rain has set in. This happened to me as we rolled into Florence. Muggy weather, then a downpour. I was stuck on the bridge to had to wait for 30 mins before I could move. Still got wet but the important thing to note is that if you can shoot evening or night shots, the rain does not show up. Or at the very least, it softens the tones nicely.
Day two and the weather did the same. The rain was cruising past the hotel door in a horizontal fashion for about 30 mins, then the storm passed and Wow, the light was fantastic. Huge clouds, a dying sun and terrific light.
So many photographers take one look and stay indoors but, as often as not, the photo opportunities right after a short, sharp storm are impressive.
I loved the results I got – all HDR of course but the dram in the sky was well worth getting a bit soggy. TIP:Always take either the shower cap from the hotel bathroom or a plastic shopping bag to cover the camera whewn tit gets really wet…

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Shooting in the rain CAN produce really average results. Use HDR (bracketed images assembled into an HDR image using HDR software likePhotomatix Pro) to beef up the tones and produce a truly impressive visual result (below).
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Shot in the pouring rain from the relative shelter of a covered walkway to the left of the Ponte Veccio. Not a bad result considering the conditions. I left the White Balance on Auto as it produced some nice colour in an otherwise very drab looking scene (to the naked eye at least)…
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Day two, after the storm, there was a bit of a sunset but that does not appear in this HDR – but what I did get were the three boats moored in the lower right hand side of the scene. The river Arno is amazingly still considering this is a 3 frame HDR shot processed using Photomatix Pro.
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My favourite, of course. Florence’s magnificent Ponte Veccio. HDR processed in Photomatix Pro.

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