Compostion Ideas

“Hey Mike, I’m OK with the camera but can’t seem to find anything interesting to photograph. How do you ‘see’ photos? If I had £1 for every time that question’s come up… 

If you want your images to be ‘sticky’, to have people pause for a while to really look at them, insteads of swipe onto the next, you have to get creative with your approach. If your image of the mountain / car / tree / man / woman / sunset is just like everyone else's, no one’s going to do that. They’ll move on until something unusual catches their attention. 

Everything creative in photography begins in your head, not in the camera and if finding a different way of looking at something is hard for you, you have to practise being more creative. Creativity is just another ‘muscle’ that has to be given regular workouts if it’s to become strong.

One great way of doing this is to set yourself challenges, or let me set them for you by joining in our PLD Creative challenges. I purposely didn’t shoot any photos in this video or tell you about settings other than the vaguest outlines in this video because I want you to struggle a bit. No pain no gain. I want you to come up with your own creative composition ideas based around a theme of ‘Deep’. How could you interpret that in a photo?

I chose Deep as in depth of the image itself. Leading lines taking you to a viewer in the first image, then got a little  more abstract in the next two. 

Deep In Shadow

steph 1

You don’t need to see the girl to know she’s there. You only need to find a way to capture her shadow without casting a shadow yourself or getting her in shot. You don’t even need a girl. It could be a shadow of anything. For many it’s the idea itself that’s the problem.

One great resource is to use a thesaurus. I found over 50 entries for ‘deep’. These can be used as clues to guide you to an idea for an image. Then you can ask yourself questions about how to capture whatever you choose. 

Q: What kind of light do I need for ‘Deep Shadow’?

A: Direct hard light

How do I go about composing my shadow?  And so it goes on. Composition is something you have to figure out on the run working by the seat of your pants. It took me about 15 mins on location to find the right hut, facing the right way in relation to the sun to get interesting shadows that could be photographed. 

Deep In Thought

steph 2

It’s merely another interpretation. Another set of questions.

Q: How could I portray thoughtfulness?

Q: Do I want someone lost in their own thoughts in a crowded place - or quietly alone somewhere.

Q: How do I make it look quiet? 

I used negative space so Steph is alone with her thoughts.

The possibilities are endless, but you have to practise, try stuff out and see what happens because there are no hard and fast rules. If it looks interesting, intriguing and says what you want it to say, that’s all that matters.

You won’t get it right all the time. Noone ever does. All the amazing imagery we see around us is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s what the photographer has decided to show us. We don’t get to see how much time and effort they put in.

Obviously you have to be able to make your camera do what you want it to in order to fulfil your vision, your idea. I can absolutely help you with everything you need to master your camera, basic light and composition in my 5 week Masterclass in Photography online course. You can try before you buy and if you don’t think it’s of value, I’ll give you your money back. 

So if you’re someone who truly wants to nail their creative composition, you know what to do.

Best wishes…

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3 Landscape Tips

vietnam-txt-streamLandscape photography is one of those areas where patience, thinking it through and taking your time pays dividends.  We have all seen a scene we want to capture but sadly we’re in a hurry, so we leap out the car and just grab a shot without giving it too much thought.

This may or may not result in a great shot. But have you thought to ask yourself if there’s more to be had from a location than the obvious? You have to build upon an initial idea. Explore possibilities.

I was in Vietnam driving through the mountains when we came upon this amazing view of rice terraces. We stopped so the film crew could shoot some aerial shots with their drone so Simon and I took the opportunity to look around and shoot this video.

As we drove up the hill I’d noticed one of the little paths that wind their way through the paddies so we went for a walk to see what it would yield.

Almost straight away we came upon some greenery we could use as foreground, which can frame a scene and give it more depth. In some cases just finding a bit of foreground can make or break an image.

But don’t forget to look around you. It’s all to easy to miss a beautiful detail of the landscape that’s right next to you because you’re absorbed by what’s in front.

You have to concentrate and really look at a scene. In the first shot of the last scenario there’s a stick poking up on the left. I didn’t really notice it to begin with. It wasn’t until I checked the shot in the LCD it became apparent.

So how do we remove it? Well obviously there’s Photoshop but I’m lazy. A few steps to the side will change the geometry of the image. It makes things align differently so you can lose unwanted clutter from the composition.

So besides making sure the light is appropriate for the scene, here are 3 landscape photography tips to consider.

  1. Take time – think of other possibilities for the location
  2. Find some foreground. It could make a world of difference
  3. Look to the side as well as in front. You might have missed something

These things are not functions of your camera. They are functions of you thinking like a photographer.


3 Landscape Tips

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