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How To “Work A Shot” To Get The Composition You Want

What makes some photographs simply stand out of the crowd? Composition is the answer to it. The way you frame the scene, place the subject and arrange the other elements in the frame is what makes all the difference. And how do photographers arrive at a good composition. This is what brings us to today’s topic of discussion; in fact a pro tip for all the photographers — work your shots to get the composition you want.

Working A Shot

So, what does working a shot mean? Working a shot is the photographers’ way of refining the shot; to make an extraordinary imagery from the ordinary scene. It is just like a writer wandering about for the plot of story or a painter re-working his canvas for a finished outcome. While writers and painters re-work on paper, photographers re-work their photographs by taking the shots; by varying the angle of shooting or by moving closer or away from the subject. The idea is to re-frame the scene to compose the interesting shot.

This is what professional photographers are into full time — working a shot. They take a lot of shots by looking at the scene with the photographers’ eye. They take multiple shots of the subject by changing the angle of view; sometimes taking tight crops and other times changing the orientation.

This simple activity of looking around the scene or the subject by varying the angle of shooting and angle of view helps in discovering the image in otherwise mundane or boring scene.

How To Work A Shot

Working the shot is actually a process where you start with a bigger picture and deduce it to get clearly defined subject that expresses your viewpoint. When you go out for a photo-walk or perhaps are out there to make some good shots, you have to put in some serious effort to make a difference with your photographs. It’s not about shooting left, right and center; it is about composing or ordering the elements in a pleasing manner. Zoom in, zoom out, simplify the scene, get the light right, change your perspective and see how your subject stands in relation to the other elements in the scene. All this actively engages you in matter of the fact — working a shot.

Here are a few tips to help you compose like pros:

  • Get Rid Of Zoom Lenses: Zoom lens is a lazy man’s way of exploring the photographic opportunities. Instead of carrying a zoom lens, try photographing with fixed focal length lenses. Get on your feet and work your composition by either getting close to the subject or by moving far enough to include some interesting elements which didn’t appear to be the part of the frame at the first place. In fact, you’d be surprised that walking out or into the scene changes the way elements interact with each other. Make them work together!
  • Try Different Angles: Photographing the same scene by varying the angle of shooting drastically changes the mood and order of elements in the photograph. It helps in adding a missing dimension to the images.
  • Simplify The Shot: Covering the scene or the subject in entirety is kind of boring. Narrow your choice of elements and focus on what matters the most. Simplify the shot, maybe framing just the water droplets on the leave pays you off with beautiful imagery.
  • Change The Perspective: Change the angle of view by increasing or decreasing your distance from the subject. When you get moving around the scene you discover new elements to be part of the scene or simply get some creative ideas to compose the scene in a better way.

How much do you work your shots?

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1 comment… add one
  • lyn Jul 3, 2012 @ 20:02

    great article.

    i dont work them as much as i should. but i tend to work them more in editing…ie cropping

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