Sunday, February 25

Notes and musings on photography taken during a recent workshop…


Everything communicates something

Start with what you want to say, start with the story.
Know where you are going. (what’s your destination)

You are answering the question WHY. Why is the photo important. How am I going to use it. What am I trying to say.

Knowing how you’ll use it is important, partially because the end product may introduce constraints such as aspect ratio, resolution, etc…

When thinking about the why, ask yourself, what compositional elements do I need to tell that story.

Consider not just your own perspective, but consider the perspective of your intended audience. Consider the cultural context you will be communicating in.

Powerful images eliminate distractions.

Re: portraiture, know your subjects personality. Find ways to draw that personality out to say what you want to say.

Emphasize what is.

Art is about drawing attention to specific elements in life and the world around us. We use all sorts of techniques to warp what is seen to add emphasis to the parts we think are important. Boring photos emphasize nothing.

All images are relational, by which we mean, we relate the subject matter of the image. You, as the artist, define that relationship and manipulate it, in order to create in the audience an emotion.

Elements of composition

– Texture
– Foreground/Background
– Shadow (directionality of light)
– Rim lighting
– Size of subject

– Shooting down,
– Shooting up, Shooting at subjects level,
– Profile,
– Mug shot, etc…

Balance (deliberate use or disuse)
– rule of thirds
– symmetry

– Progression (DOF, repetition with slight changes)
– Freeze frames
– Repetition
– Blur

Leading Lines

– light/dark (more contrast adds impact. The faster you go from light to dark in a gradient the more rich a photo will appear.) (see the concept of compression as it relates to dynamic range, similar to the way an audio engineer will use compression)
– anachronism (using two objects that don’t fit together – wrong time periods, opposing ideas [short/tall, thin/fat]- to emphasize the differences between the two.)

Know when to edit. Not all photos should be kept.
– Is the photo deceptive, unflattering?
– Quantity doesn’t mean quality.

Be familiar with moods/emotions. Be able to recognize them quickly, know how to work with each emotion.

Basic compositions for portraits:
– face
– head/shoulders
– waist up
– full profile

almost anything else is awkward.



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