Would you like to capture better images? Do you want to improve your craft and make images that really stand out? If so, then we need to get back to the basics and focus on what it takes to create a strong clear compelling image.
Now some of you have been watching my Adobe Photoshop Lightroom image processing tutorials for years. One thing that I have rarely talked about in my post-processing videos though is what goes on inside my head when I am out in the field shooting. So in this series of tutorials, I want to talk about some of the things that help to shape an unforgettable image.
Although my specialty is landscape and night photography, the advice that I have to share here applies to any type of image. What I have to say in these lessons also applies no matter what type of camera you are using. A great photo is a great photo whether it was captured with the highest-end DSLR camera system or with a smartphone.
At its most fundamental level, photography is about storytelling. Our images tell visual stories. When I am out shooting, I try to ask myself “what’s the story here?”
I try to ask myself what message will this image send to someone who has absolutely no connection to this place or this moment in time. I try to ask myself again and again “where will my viewer’s eyes go in this scene and will the clues that I have included within this frame lead my viewer’s imagination right to the message that I want them to learn from this photograph?”
So here I have some advice. One of the best things that you can do to craft a stronger image, is to fill up the frame. When you fill up the entire frame with your subject then your viewer has no choice but to see exactly what you want them to see. If your image contains nothing but your subject then there can be absolutely no confusion about what your photograph is trying to say!
But what if we can’t move in closer to our subject. What if we can’t zoom in enough, or walk in close, enough so that our subject is the only thing in the frame?
Well, then we need to carefully think about the background. Background here meaning all of the stuff that our audience will get to see that is in front, or behind, our subject. Nothing ruins a great image as quickly as a distracting background.
Here’s the best thing that I have learned in almost twenty years as a professional photographer. What I have learned is from shooting thousands and thousands of lousy photos is to “loose the clutter.”
If it’s not essential to your story then find a way to cut it out. If you want to improve your photography then my advice is that in this art form less is more.