How to dramatically improve your photography
Lets start asking a few simple questions that can dramatically improve your photography. It seems that the most common questions people in Perth have is, “So often my photos come out looking like very bad snapshots. I seem to be unable to remake the vision that’s in my head and get it to come out in a photo?” Well it turns out the answer to that is already there inside of you, and you can bring it out by asking yourself three simple questions. Whenever you approach a scene, you should consciously ask yourself, “What do I like about this scene?”
When doing landscapes, there are a million and one things to look at. As a photographer its your job to identify those few elements which are most striking to you. That’s how your photos begin to take shape. For example, out here in Perth Western Australia, there’s a lot to look at. The world best beaches. There’s the great blue sky, lake Monger or kalamunda, the sunlight, or best of all the sunsets, Last time i was taken photos the thing that really caught my eye was the warm sunlight streaming through the trees and the trees themselves.So that’s what i focused on in my photo.
Notice I didn’t say, “Boy I love this blue sky.” Or, “I love this empty field.” Or, “I really love the beach.” That not only gives me an idea of the things that I want to include in my photo, the warm sunlight, but also the things that I want to exclude, maybe the sky, maybe a lot of the grass. The things that you aren’t that passionate about, the things that you come out to a scene and you just don’t care that much about, exclude them. Minimise them in your photo and kick them completely out if you can.
Simplify your images
The more that you simplify your images, the more you’ll see them gain focus and clarity. Once you’ve figured out what you like, don’t stop there. The next step is to ask yourself exactly what is it about this stuff that you like? For me, it’s the way the warm sunlight streams through the trees. The better your be on the other questions, “What is it exactly about thew photo you love,” the more easy it will be to answer the other questions. when taking your photos
In perth we have so many things to take photos of. Now that you’ve identified the elements you want in your photo and the characteristics about them that you like, you need to ask yourself the question,
“How can I exaggerate those characteristics?”
After all, as an artistic photographer, your job is not to represent a scene as faithfully as possible, it’s to exaggerate the things that you notice and to show people what you want them to see. Sometimes the way to do that is compositionally. I really love that warm sunlight streaming through the leaves, I place myself in the best spot to take the photo. This is where that effect is most pronounced so I can exaggerate it by shooting from that location.
Getting your vision
Sometimes it’s a technical choice. I really love the warmth of that sunlight so I might exaggerate it by changing my white balance from daylight to cloudy, or maybe even shady. Sometimes it’s done through post processing. So maybe in Photoshop, I might saturate the greens and yellow tones. No matter how you do it, once you begin to exaggerate the characteristics of the elements in your photo, you’ll see your own personal artistic vision begin to shine through your images.
The why question
Lets tie everything together and to help you understand the choices you make when creating a photo. You should ask yourself, “Why,” about every aspect of your photo. Ask yourself why have you include this element and excluded other? Well, it’s because I like this one and I don’t really care about this one. Why did I place this element just here in the frame? Well, I like the rule of thirds and I don’t want an important element too close to the edge or too centred. Why did I use a wide angle lens and not a telephoto? Well, it’s because I like the depth and sense of being there that a wide angle lens gives.
That goes just as strongly for the technical choices in your photo.
Why did I choose this aperture? Was I trying to isolate a subject with a shallow depth of field, or did I want a deep depth of field to let the viewer’s eye drift across the entire frame?
Why did I choose this particular shutter speed? Was I trying to enhance some motion in the frame somewhere or was I trying to freeze motion? Did it not even matter at all? Why did I choose this white balance? Was I trying to enhance a cool colour scheme or a warm colour scheme? Why did I choose this ISO? Was I trying to increase my shutter speed in low light? Was I trying to capture stars? Why? Why? Why?”
Keep asking the questions
The more your photos become a direct extension of your artistic vision. Basically, you’re trying to make a caricature of whatever you’re shooting. Simplify and exaggerate. You simplify by asking, “What?” You exaggerate by asking, “How?” Then you examine every aspect of your photo by asking, “Why?” In the end, it’s those conscious choices you make that take your snapshots and turn them into true art. As always, thanks for reading.