This is the second half of my conversation with a friend. Someone new to photography. Someone now using her iPhone to take images that are becoming more interesting and more important to her. Someone trying to figure out how to find her way in her images (compositionally speaking) and tell her story. How fun! How wonderful! However, please keep in mind, if you are already a comfortable photographer this suggestion may not be for you.
Where we left off…
Me: Okay, so I know you’ve had it happen where you’ve been walking around a city on vacation and turned a corner and something about the scene made you want to take a photo, right?
Me: But when you looked at the image later it just didn’t “feel” the same — not to you and certainly not to anyone you showed it to, right?
Friend: “Well, that’s kind of mean but right — I hope this gets better.”
Me: Hahahaha! (I have the best friends). It’s because you didn’t tell the story in your photo that you felt when you were standing there and you do that by how you compose it.
Friend: “Right, and I’ve already told you that I don’t know how to do that.”
Me: Yes, but you can get better with this easy (no-pressure) exercise.
Friend: “No pressure? I’m in.”
Me: Alright, alright, alright. (I say with my best Matthew McConaughey impression — no, I don’t know why I have one). Anyway…
After you take a picture, take it into an app (or even just with your phone’s editing app) and start cropping the image in different ways and around different elements within the image to figure out: (a) What exactly was it that you found so interesting? And, (b) How might you show it, crop it, compose it, (or tell the story) next time so that others can experience it in the same way you did? It’s free, it’s easy and it’s fun to see what could have been different had you thought differently about how to take the picture.
Remember, you’re new at this so you need to experiment in order to help train your eyes to see differently than they have seen before. Cropping can be a quick and easy way to show yourself what could have been and helps to train your eye for the future. Do this a lot and with practice you’ll start shooting differently and the need for cropping won’t be as great. (Though with a phone you might find you still need to crop from time to time because you don’t have the ability to zoom like other cameras but that’s another post).
I have included some example images below to illustrate what I mean.
So you wandered down this street and something struck you, you felt something, saw something and so you took the photo. Now, try cropping it in different ways to figure out what it might have been that moved you. You can crop your own images as many times as you’d like — it’s up to you — it’s play time so have fun!
Above: Was it the table and chairs, or the stairs?
Above: Was it something low? The cobblestone street? The puddle? The people?
Or was it that there was just enough mist about this deserted entrance that it reminded you of the page of a novel and you knew
(with just a little editing) it could be this? Yeah, I think that was it.
Anyway, after you’ve started to take notice of how you feel, use this little trick to start to compose differently, and then you can start the fun process of learning some really helpful “rules” like the rule of thirds. But first have some fun because if you do, it makes learning the rules a lot more fun, too.
Have fun and have a great day everyone!