I learned to stop taking photos, and instead I now make photos
A rather inflammatory title, I’ll admit… But one that tells a truth that I learned the hard way.
Taking photos, insinuates that you are merely there capturing the scene. In other words, taking what you get.
If you want to take your photography to its next level, it’s important to learn what you as a photographer bring to the table when it comes to a photograph.
It is often said that the most important thing behind good photos, is the photographer. This is absolutely true and a secret that defines a good general photographer from a great photographer.
So what does making a photograph entail?
What can you do as a photographer to make a good shot better?
Beyond the basics of being in the right place at the right time, or finding a compelling subject matter to shoot, there is a definite mindset that you should be in, every time you approach a photograph. That mindset is based around a simple question.
What does this scene lack or what could be added or removed from it, to make it better?
If you ask yourself this simple question, it will make you analyze your scene a bit more and stop you from blindly taking photo after photo and hoping you finally find something that looks good.
But if you first sit back for a second, analyze your scene and make some basic judgments on how to make the photo better, you will actually take less photos but ultimately make better ones. And in my book, that is what photography is about.
For instance, if you have a cloudless day, then you may not want to make the sky very prominent or possibly even visible at all. You may also find that because of the skies cloudless, deep blue color, and your foregrounds contrasting colors, that they might actually work well together.
If you are shooting near sundown, and a cool tree is in silhouette because of the back lighting, why not try adding light to your foreground? Use a reflector to catch any remains light and redirect onto the tree. Or use a flash if you have that.
If you don’t have a flash, try pointing your car headlights in the direction you want the light and then try taking a few shots with different blasts of light by turning your headlight on and off for a second or two.
If you want something more dramatic, maybe try pointing your car the other direction and use your taillight a to give a red color hue to your photo. I’ve even used my turn signal, to help add yellow tones.
The point is, very few scenes you run across are perfect. They can all be made better by subtle lighting effects, and often these slight additions are what will set your shot apart from everyone else.
After awhile, you will get quicker and better at being able to dissect scenes and figure out what you as a photographer, can add to a scene to make a much better photograph.
Remember, every good photograph can always be made better. Knowing that little secret, is what makes you a better photographer by realizing that there is always something you can do, rather than just taking photos and hoping you get lucky.