During my photo outings I usually have a specific list of images I want to capture. Whether it’s on a mountain trail or a city street, I’m there because I know there’s something that I want to photograph. However, it’s common during these trips to stumble across an eye-catching scene that wasn’t on my list. When this happens, even though I sense something interesting, I may not immediately be aware of what it is exactly, or how I can express it in a photograph.
As a photographer I love this kind of challenge, because with it there’s an opportunity to create something completely new; to express my unique vision in photographic form. At the same time, it is a challenge! For that reason, it’s good to have some mental tools in your pocket to help you work through the challenge, and today I’d like to share some of those with you.
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Tips For Working Through A Photographic Challenge
#1: Slow down and observe
When you’re in photography mode, it’s easy to just start shooting, hoping something sticks. The problem with this is, even if something does stick, you still don’t understand what made the scene work to begin with. So I recommend you resist this urge – maybe even set your equipment aside – and simply observe the scene for a moment. Slow yourself down and allow yourself to take in what’s before you. This will give your artistic mind a chance to wander and work. At the same time, it has personal benefit – you actually get to experience the beauty of what’s in front of you.
#2: Ask yourself questions
After you have slowed down, it’s important to ask yourself some questions about the scene. For starters, just ask yourself – why do I like this? What is it about this scene that made me want to stop and look? Next it may be useful to ask some more pointed questions. For example: where the are the leading lines? Where is the light coming from? What is the subject? Are there any obstacles or distractions? Questions like these can give some visual logic to the scene.
#3: Wander around the scene
Another (often unconscious) temptation is to stand in one place. But from one spot you’ll only get one view. So, let yourself explore the scene a bit. Squat down and see how things look lower to the ground. See how the light changes as you change your perspective from side to side. Even if your first thought is “that spot won’t work” walk to the spot anyway and see. You might be right, but then again you might be surprised. Wandering the scene gives you a better idea of what the scene is all about, and this can only benefit the image.
#4: Visualize different camera settings
Before you pick up your camera, think about what different camera settings might do with the scene. For example, how would the scene look on a wide angle lens as compared to a zoom? What effect might a slower shutter speed have? Does everything need to be in focus, or do you want some blur? Once you start looking through the viewfinder, it limits your vision both physically and mentally. Allowing for time to visualize outside the viewfinder’s frame can give you a better idea of how to use that limited space.
Next time your out and something catches your eye, give these four tips a try! If this helps you out, please take a moment and share this with your friends. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!