“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
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
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 UBC 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.