"Why is it, that when I take pictures, they just look like snapshots?" "How can I make my photographs more...artistic?" Have you ever had these questions? Here are a few suggestions that I have learned over the years that may be helpful.
To illustrate, I am going to post some images from a photo shoot I did this past summer. A photo shoot .... of a rock. This is not just any rock. It is 'Big Rock' found in a field near Okotoks, Alberta. The worlds largest glacial erratic. As interesting a subject it may be, it's still a rock, right?
1- USE YOUR IMAGINATION- walk around your subject and see if there is anything about it that is unique, not overly obvious. Do you see Big Rock smirking at you?
2- TRY DIFFERENT COMPOSITIONS OF YOUR SUBJECT- after walking around Big Rock, I thought including the path and fence with just a portion of the rock in the frame would make it more interesting.
3- BE CREATIVE IN YOUR USE OF ANGLES- in the image below I positioned myself low to the ground, including a portion of the rock but focusing mainly on the sunset.
4- BE ALERT TO WAYS TO ADD MEANING TO YOUR IMAGE- while setting up for the above image, my dad happened to walk into the frame. He noticed and went to back away, but I noticed something. I asked him to step back in and look up at the rock. He had recently successfully battled a major health setback. The composition of the image below tells the story of the attitude needed to fight the seemingly impossible obstacle set before him. In post I increased the purples as that also has some significance to those close to the situation.
5- TAKE A LOT OF SHOTS- when photographing a subject, I like to take a variety of pictures from different locations around the subject.
6- BE ADAPTABLE- these teenagers were climbing around the rock. It was a little frustrating at first as climbing on the rock is not allowed and they were interfering with my composition. But then I realized that what I was seeing here was a story as well. Who are they? Why do they feel they can break the rules? What are they looking at on the other side of the rock? What are they thinking?
7- PLAY WITH YOUR CAMERA SETTINGS- using a longer exposure time allowed me to capture movement in the clouds that contrasts sharply with the stationary and permanent nature of Big Rock. To add to the variety I composed this vertically instead of horizontally and also played with the white balance in post to show another look.
8- TIMING IS EVERYTHING- I purposely timed my shoot to coincide with sunset as this obviously will mean more interesting skies, colors, shadows and textures. It creates mood and drama. In the photo below I also waited for awhile and timed the shot just when the sun fell into the gap between the two halves of rock.
9- LOOK AROUND- don't just concentrate on the subject at hand. Look up, down and behind you. Maybe there is another photo op just waiting.