I have been (over) thinking my photography lately and been reading a lot from (and about) other photographers.
As a result, based on my own experiences I have I have put together these 5 things to think about when taking and sharing photographs.
As I said this list comes from me sometimes overthinking things especially when I am at a popular location; here’s how it goes…
So here you are at that classic landmark or location and you have your camera in your hand. You lift your hand, compose and snap! There you go, you now have an image of say, the Golden Gate Bridge, for example. Before you press that button though maybe you should ask yourself a question;
Why am I taking this picture?
- Because I might forget this scene?
- Because I just like taking pictures?
- Because this is a singularly unique moment that I want to preserve?
- I want to show my friends and family (and followers) where I have been?
- Because I am an awesome photographer and I will make this image better than anything ever produced before?
Whatever your answer is ask yourself “Why?”
Then, if any of your answers involve sharing it via an app or website again, think about why.
There are probably well over a million images of something like the Golden Gate bridge, many of which are by very accomplished professional photographers; so if anyone wants to see what it looks like they can easily find an image. Why then would anyone need to add yet another image to the pool? Mostly this will come down to either pride or just because they can.
(I am guilty of adding mine to the pool too, by the way)
So in order to help make the internet have better images and maybe you a better photographer (by making images worth the effort) here are my Five Golden Rules and you should think about achieving one or more of these with every image you make.
1. Make it unique
Stop and look around you and think; has anyone ever stood in this spot and at around this time of day and pointed a camera in that direction? If the answer is “probably, yes” then think about a few things;
■ Is what’s in front of me different to what has been before?
■ If I move to another spot will that make my picture different from most others?
■ Can I come back at a different time when other people wouldn’t?
■ Can I point my camera somewhere else that no one would think of?
Whatever the answers try to find a unique view or an image that no-one else would see, it might be of some detail hidden in the shadows or just a unique angle. Make your image different.
2. Tell a story
Maybe you aren’t shooting a thing as such, maybe you are trying to capture a scene or the mood of a place. Try to find a story, a moment in time which leads the viewer to ponder the before and after. Your image may be a fraction of a second’s worth of time, frozen in a still image; but there were things happening the led up to that moment and time continued afterwards so think about how that is playing out and capture the relationships between all the moving parts. This might mean waiting a few seconds (or minutes) for the right elements to come into play, or maybe shifting to a better point of view so that the scene makes more sense.
3. Move someone
Sometimes the scenery or the action you want to photograph is epic and significant. Try to think about how the viewer will see this and make the image as good as it can be and equal to the scene it’s representing. This about colour, contrast, motion, light. How can you make the best use of these factors to make someone’s heart skip a beat when they see it. Try to capture how the scene makes you feel.
4. Preserve it
This may be a unique event that will only happen once in this way. Plan ahead, make sure you are in the best place to capture it at the peak moment. Have the right things available to ensure you don’t miss it. Hopefully you are the only person there with a camera so make the opportunity count. If others are there, think about why your picture will be better (hint; your expensive equipment isn’t the right answer here).
Finally, try to make others inspired by your image, either in trying to take similar (and perhaps better) pictures or to visit that place or do that thing or right that wrong. Whatever it is you share, make sure your image makes a difference and induces some action or has an effect.
Okay so these might not be rules exactly but they are worth bearing in mind as you go to press that shutter button.
Now, I am not saying that I achieve all or indeed any of these every time I press the shutter or when I post an image and I don’t claim to have moved anybody but, if I try to do one or more of these by thinking about them, then my images should be better and maybe I will inspire or move; or at least increase peoples enjoyment of my images.