One of the many challenges in photography is what we call “working the scene.” It means drawing out multiple pictures from the same scene, in other words, getting different angles, lighting, subjects, etc. This can be difficult, yet it’s important for a number of reasons. First of all, it can differentiate you from other photographers. For example, Tokyo’s World Trade Center (where I took this photo from) is a popular spot for photographers to shoot from. Many are taking the basic same type of shot, namely, a scenic cityscape of some sort, much like the first photo below. If I work the scene then, I will likely get shots that are different from what anyone else has taken, which helps me stand out in the sea of photos taken in this same location. Secondly, it helps provide me with more content per visit. Let’s say I pay 500 yen (or $5) to get into an observatory like this one. If I only take the same type of photo, I could easily end up with only 2 or 3 shots that are worth sharing. But by working the scene, I can end up with 2 to 3 times as many good shots, maybe more. So it really helps me value my time and money better. Thirdly, working the scene can help tell the story better. Our brains don’t work like our cameras do. As we observe a scene we take in not just the whole picture but different specific sections. Although we can’t literally zoom in with our eyes on areas, mentally that’s effectively what we do – we focus on specific areas and take that information in separately. That’s how we remember these types of scenes, as well. By working the scene, I can better mimic that process and thus share the experience better. This matters more in certain situations than others, but it’s good to remember no matter what the occasion. There are probably other reasons but hopefully this can give you an idea of something that goes through a photographer’s mind when taking photos and help you as you take photos of your own. Working the scene is an important aspect of photography, and while it can be challenging, it yields fruit if you’re willing to work at it.
This first photo is the kind I expect a lot of photographers take when visiting the observatory. It’s pretty enough of course, but there’s more to explore. I took this with my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.
This next photo I have shared before, but it comes from a section of the above photo. This was taken with the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
Finally, this shot was taken simply by pointing towards the left of the area in the first photo. I took this using my Nikon 35mm f/1.8G.