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How To Make A Mark With Your Photographs

I‘ve been asked this question many times. What differentiates a masterpiece from the rest? There are underexposed and overexposed photographs which are showcased while some of the technically perfect ones left out. I’d better try to answer this through a post.

Photography is an art. And just like any form of art photography is medium for expression. How well your photographs make an expression depends on how well the expression is communicated. While you may still be using a compact camera, it is still important to understand that there’s nothing too difficult about it and that you have already been practicing this art all this while – after all you’ve clicked children smiling and have photographed the flowers and the sunsets. They all express something. Here are a few tips on refining the artist in you.

  1. Understand How Photographs Are Interpreted

    At an abstract level , photographs and images are symbolic – an open door, the horizon, a tree all convey something. It is therefore important to know what the scene conveys and how to get the shot that best tells the story.

  2. It’s All About Reaction

    People react in various ways when they look at a picture. It depends on how they interpret the massage, their background, the culture they belong to. Different people will have different reaction and understanding of your work. Believe in yourself and be open to feedback. Understand that not everyone has the ability to critically analyze a photograph.

  3. Personal Expressions

    Once you know how photographs are interpreted it’s time to develop your own expression and practice the art. Like every painter’s or musician’s work has their signature, your photography will bear the hallmark of your personality. Groom your expression and individuality.

  4. Draw Inspiration

    Study the work of great photographers and see what their work speaks. This will inspire the creative and the artist in you. Sometimes just reading through some inspirational quotes by great photographers will make your day and motivate you to pick up your camera & get started.

  5. Don’t Lose Heart

    I don’t know of a photographer whose every shot is an art master piece. In the film days the learning process was long and a steep curve. In the days of the digital it’s easy — shoot and delete. Every professional shoots thousands of photographs only a few of which are really usable. The ratio of good shots versus the rest will be an indicator of your progress; so don’t lose heart — it’s just a matter of time and even professionals aren’t perfect. Soon you’ll see that most of your photos are coming out great and only a few are off the mark.

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11 comments… add one
  • Paul Perano Jan 28, 2010 @ 13:42

    You do seem to have a problem Mark.
    A flat landscape then pushes you towards dramatic weather or possible buildings on the horizon that become “a point of focus”.

    Try using “the rule of thirds”. Perhaps you can place the horizon on the bottom horizontal third. A building at an intersection along the bottom line. Dramatic clouds, etc. filling the remaining two thirds.
    If the clouds are moving fast use a tripod and make long exposures to use the cloud movement. Perhaps towards you or on a diagonal across the image. Try different times. Start with 5 seconds then double it and double it again, etc. You may have to use Neutral Denstiy filters to slow things up. Even a Polariser can drop your speed down a stop or two.

    Use your roads for perspective shots. Or if the you have areas of low hilly terrain with roads there maybe be oppotunity there too. Use long lenses to compress the distances and bring the hills closer together or wide angle lenses to make them appear much further way.

    Ok these maybe a bit cliched, but they can make for strong images.

    Weather can be emotional powerful in an image and the worse the weather the more power. Try using a red filter and shoot in Black & White. The clouds will leap out of the image and smack you in the face ! Sure you can try this in Photoshop, but try doing it the hard way too.

    Repetition and one item that is different is also a strong compositional tool too. Place that item at a strategic point in the image and it is amplified.

    So study the rules … no … the guides to composition and the dull and your flat land may become a lot more intetresting.

    Good luck
    Paul P

  • kym Feb 23, 2011 @ 20:13

    Hi Mark!!
    By no means am I a professional, but being an artist, I know sometimes the talent is there, and sometimes it isn’t… I think that is normal… But there are alot of times, when I’m in a rut and I just want to get out of that rut, but I find nothing interesting to shoot as well… Thats when I take a simple subject… Anything really, I’ve used a piece of fruit, a wine glass, a tree, etc… and I move in really close, to the parts people don’t normally see with the human eye, or don’t take the time to see…. It could be a reflexion in that wine glass, it could be the colors in a piece of fruit….
    One Saturday morning, it was very cold, and I was a bit depressed of the fact that a long cold winter was on its way… It started to snow, and instead of getting down on that fact, I picked up my camera and started shooting… A snowflake fell on the railing next to me, I started taking shot after shot after shot of this one snowflake till I got it out of my system….. This photo of the single snowflake, brought the most compliments I’ve ever gotten… People started really admiring my creativity…. and got me out of my rut…. [img]http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/photo.php?fbid=1596303081505&set=a.1404492086350.52636.1653828978&theater[/img]

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