I think scale is so important when setting the mood in photography.
This picture below, for example. I almost walked beyond the red truck on the left to fill my frame entirely with the front end of the gray car and the fire hose connector. It could have made a backdrop for a nice image, but I had scale on the brain.
This background below – to me – makes for a much better image. It’s almost as if the scale of the image is the subject. The size of the wall, the windows, the post, the wires, the red truck, the shadow, the blue sky. There are a lot of complimentary elements, and the scale is my favorite.
What elements do you look for when you make your images?
Left, right, center. The order in which I suggest you view these images.
I was recently asked if I’m driven to photograph more by subject or composition. My reply? It depends on how I’m feeling, really.
A real life example
I didn’t know I was going to stumble upon this crowd outside of the Civic Opera House a few nights ago. To passersby it was a bit chaotic, and for me it all went silent. I started to look for subjects but I was more interested in composition.
These images tell a different story when in color. Soon I’ll share a new project, a night at the opera, all its images processed in black and white. I want to evoke a different emotion with that project.
Something that’s just come to me: I almost always process in color, although one – and soon to be two – of my selected works are black and white. Food for my own thought.
So, yeah. To look for a subject or composition, or even to process in color or b&w, it’s all about feel for me. And with left, right, center, I feel color.
I’m excited to introduce a new “behind the scenes” Journal series, Behind the Image.
Not all share-worthy street photographs simply fall into my lap. In fact, those shots are generally few and far between. When I’m out on a photo-walk or even walking around for other reasons but with camera in-hand (or in pocket), I’m almost always looking for an opportunity to make a picture.
Even if I don’t pull the camera up and make a picture, I’m looking.
When I was a less experienced photographer, I’d take a shot and move on. Often I didn’t know why I was taking the shot in the first place. In any event, something inside of me said, “exercise the muscle.” I eventually learned that there’s no shortcut to experience.
On Sunday, 4.14.19, I subconsciously called upon that experience to make image #4 (see below). I didn’t make it right out of the gate – I had to think and move on my feet, quickly, and size up the situation.
Introduced to the scene
I took this first picture, #1, at the end of my photo-walk session. Headed back to my car I noticed this corner and the three women. At first I tried to line them up together. I wouldn’t leave until I got the shot I’d wanted.
A compelling feeling
Something compelled me to stick around. I noticed that a show had just let out of the theater; I could blend in with everyone leaving and remain inconspicuous. I took image #2.
I couldn’t believe that the woman on the bench hadn’t looked up. At this point I was probably going on 30 seconds of walking/circling. I felt onto something and took image #3.
At last I heard Robert Capa in my ear, “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Two, then three steps closer and then keeper, image #4 (Instagram post below that).
In summary, making image #4 took time. Some scenes don’t allow for the taking of time, but when we find one that does we should take advantage of it. Move about, quickly and softly, and size up your situation. Feel the scene – take the shot.
Do you have a memorable story about an image you’ve made?