Photographers are becoming video producers. Young men and women and becoming politicians, doctors, teachers and more. Sports greats are becoming business professionals. Actors are becoming criminals. Criminals are becoming philosophers. Fast food is becoming healthy (well… it could happen). The Internet is simply becoming. The more we are merging life’s styles and tools into a blob of multi-tasking multi-platform one “click does it all” methodologies – the more we are opening the doors to a world divided. What does it all mean? I don’t know, but that last sentence was fun to write. Online writers are becoming the media, the educators, the trend setters and living virtual evidence of the power of the pen (so to speak). One thing is certain. Today’s top talent can emerge from the most remote places with the prolific outreach that the Internet provides. Take me for example: Yesterday, I was a young man struggling to figure out which end of the batteries I should shove into my camera body – only to learn that I didn’t have the correct battery at all. Today, I’m a “trained professional” teaching you how to reach for the stars without burning your %#@! hands.
So what is all this meandering and likely meaningless garble about? You’re thinking, “Hey! Teach me something for heaven’s sake.” I feel ya. Your point of view is critical to help separate you from the others. Competition is on your tush. It’s up to you to fight the potential reality of there being no new ideas or new concepts. So you have to compete in other ways. Let’s go back to basic training and talk about “Point of View.” Your gear can give you a number of adjustments for “how things will look.” However, this post is not about that.
Nope, I’m not talking about making a literal, physical adjustment to anything on your camera. I’m talking about adjusting how you see things, in order to improve the quality of the photos and video clips you create. Baseball players start each year with spring training, a.k.a. basic training. Throw the ball, catch the ball. Simple stuff. Hardly the “pro” moves and techniques.
A creative person can use this example to go back to the basics too. Get high (not drugs). Get low. Get sideways. Get different. Go back to the basics of a simple snapshot. What will you include in the composition? Aim your camera and then say, “click.” Then, ask yourself if moving in tighter or adjusting your camera up or down – or – from side to side to include or exclude elements would make it a better photo. Are your horizontal and vertical lines level? If not, are you trying to purposely create a “dutch angle?” Get basic and see if the color values in the composition are doing you any good or harm.
Some people say that you either “have” a photographic eye, or you don’t. Personally, I think that a photographic eye can be learned, but it is certain that some people just have the ability to “see” things in a way that is more artistic and interesting than the rest of us, without really trying.
In the photo above, I did not change my (camera) angle, I changed my perception of a group shot of folk musicians. “PLAGIARY,” you’re screaming. “Yes,” I answer. Next topic. I’m going out of my way to see a group shot, finished, before I even set up the shot. FYI: This shot was set up and shot in 3.5 minutes – start to finish – after a 100+ people feeding frenzy called supper. I planned everything about the shot before I even arrived at the location. I “saw” this before I even shot it. Thanks, Ansel, for allowing me to take your training and pre-visualization techniques with me. They’ve been fruitful. Oh… one more fun thing to share.
I created the image displayed above at the final meal of a four-day music festival in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was the last supper.
Let’s get technical, as in, “techniques to pump up that creative eye and mindset.”
If you happen to be one of those people who need to learn these skills, here are some tricks to help you see things in a way that will make them more interesting on film.
Pick one or two subjects and shoot them at different times of the day. Shooting the exact same thing over and over with different levels of natural light will help you develop how you see the subject, as well as how light affects it. We all know that a cityscape, for example, looks very different at night from a daytime view.
Position yourself exactly opposite of where you would normally take a picture. We all love those pictures taken from behind people who are sitting on the beach staring out into the waves, right? Shoot other things from behind, or from the side, or from upside down. Literally change your perspective.
Here are two photos, one with the sun behind. Much more fun in my judgement.
The sun on the subject is typical of most outdoor photos. If it wasn’t for the colorful uniforms, this would not be much fun to look at.
In this image, I shot into the sun to create a bit more drama. I “did” do some post production to enhance the overall feel of the photo. I prefer the drama created with the sun behind the subject. How about you?
The sun is my friend. I look into the sun for inspiration. “No, not more of my rambling, meaningless, philosophical BS.” Relax! Shoot with the sun behind your subject until you “get it.” See my previous post for more on that topic.
Use software. Take some pictures of everyday objects and then use Photoshop to add in some unique colors or backgrounds. Go Andy Warhol on your subjects.
Practice, practice, practice. Sometimes, the best shots just happen. But, they can only happen if you’re actually taking photos. After a while, you’ll be able to “make” them happen more frequently.
Look at the work of others. Reviewing how other photographers have framed their subjects can help you develop your own unique perspective.
We may not all be able to develop the eye of a true master. But, we can all develop our own artistic eye a bit further, with some patience and some practice.