It’s Not what you Put in a Picture that Counts, it’s What you Don’t Put in that Matters

Photography is the “art of subtraction”. Unlike painting where you start out with a blank canvas on an easel and fill it in until you have a finished work of art, the camera on a tripod stars out with everything the lens can see, and you take things out until you have a finished photo.


What else did I need to say to represent a pharmaceutical lab in a photo?

The key to finishing up with a finished photograph, worthy of being on a wall is, in knowing what to take out and what to leave in. To me, this is one of the most difficult parts of the process; from the first idea/composition to the final act of clicking the shutter.

I’ve been teaching an online class with the BPSOP for five years, and conducting my personal “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops for over thirty years, and one thing that hasn’t changes is that my fellow photographers don’t know when to quit. When to say ok I’m comfortable with what I have so it’s time to let go and click the shutter.

I’ve found that people have a tendency to not trust their judgment and with that comes an insecurity in what they’re doing, and while they’re doing it..therefore their thought process centers around more is better.

Years ago, perhaps a million of them, I was represented by The Stock Market”, one of the first, largest, and most popular stock photography agency in the world. The co-owner and photo editor told me that what she liked about my pictures was that I knew what not to to put into a photograph.

For the most part, I’ve always tried to “keep it clean”. If something in your composition isn’t helping it then more than likely it’s probably hurting it…or at the least taking up unnecessary space. Sometimes you don’t even realize it until you’re sitting in front of a computer, and maybe you can fix it then; which doesn’t make you a good photographer.

I do suggest three ways to help you out on that: My fifteen point protection plan, the border patrol, and the four corner checkoff. At least it might get you to see those pesky UFO’s…those parts of things that invade the edges of your frame – i.e., a part of someone’s hand or foot, the last three letters of a sign, half a light post, etc.

Sometimes you don’t need the entire horse running through the field, maybe it’s just the neck and head. What if it’s just the grill of a 57′ Chevy? Try it sometime, and let the viewer work at filling in the missing pieces to the puzzle you left him.

BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches: 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

The Use of Gestalt in Photography


“I just wanted to thank you for another wonderful class. I have to confess that each week when I read the new assignment, my first reaction was mild panic and a deep certainty that I would not be able to produce anything worthwhile that fit within the parameters you had set. But before I knew it, the ideas started to flow, and I quickly became obsessed (no, that isn’t too strong a word!) with exploring the possibilities. I can honestly say that the photos I produced in response to your assignments are among my favorites. Thanks for bringing out a creative side I didn’t know I had!”

Barbara Geiger
Understanding Color

“Thank you so very much for this course! It’s allowed me to take the blinders off and present my images for what I want them to be without being a slave to the “reality” of the camera. I would also add that in conjunction with your printing course, this has been the most useful course I’ve ever taken. Your notes are more than comprehensive and your comments and critiques are direct, clear, and always directed to the improvement of the art.”

After the click

” I want to thank you for this class and for your patience and availability to answer all of my questions. I have learned very much through this class. I have used LR in the past, but mostly for editing images. I now have a better grasp in the organization of my images, an even better understanding of editing images, and an understanding of the value of presets. I still have a lot to learn, but this has put me on the road to be able to improve my photography. Again, thank you! ”

Dale Yates
Lightroom Quickstart

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