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What Should I Photograph?

Time and again this issue will haunt you. You have a camera but you are looking for some interesting subjects. Or perhaps you’ve run out of ideas. You shoot left, right and center but don’t want to do better. How do you make beautiful photographs? Put another way, what should you aim for when you shoot? Which subject, angle, distance, composition, perspective would make your photograph a piece of art?

  1. Choosing The Subject

    In photography, the subject does not matter. The skill and art of photography lies in being able to photograph any and every subject creatively. If the photographer has a creative vision and ability to portray the subject unusually, even a glass of water qualifies to be an impressive subject of the photograph. Instead of wasting the time on choosing the subject, it is wise to photograph the objects, scene or subject in the vicinity with a difference. Try to introduce an element of surprise or interesting-ness in the photograph, perhaps by presenting the subject as the silhouette or by zooming into the scene or subject to highlight the patterns, textures and other physical qualities of the subject. So stop looking for interesting subjects; see how you can pick a random subject and portray it with added interest.

    Goodbye Mr. Blurry Sun

    Goodbye Mr. Blurry Sun by Davide

  2. Understanding The Impact Of Light

    Light is the most important element that affects the results. The quality, quantity, temperature of the light affects the exposure of the photograph. Thus, learning the basics of light and using the available lights effectively, helps in making a mark with your photographs. Understanding the various features of the light comes in handy for proper exposures, bringing out well-saturated colors, helps in portraying the patterns and textures, etc. For instance, if you want to photograph the textures and capture the fine details of the subject, hard light can help you get the desired effect and on the other hand, using soft and diffused light is desirable for portraits.

    Her Eyes In Heaven

    Her Eyes In Heaven by Harold lloyd

  3. Perspective: Portraying The Unusual Aspect

    Photography is an art of presenting the real life objects and subjects with a difference. And the perspective helps in presenting the familiar subject or the scene in a unique and unusual way. No matter how usual or boring the subject, your unique view-point should make the photograph a revelation. The perspective is your unique viewpoint of the subject and helps you in portraying the subject as viewed by the “photographer’s eye”. It is a matter of angle of view which makes a huge difference. The same architectural building as portrayed from a high vantage point becomes inferior (to the others in the surrounding) which stands superior and commands authority when shot from the ground level. Similarly, photographing a tree with a bench in the foreground adds value (compliments) to the subject and narrates of its own characteristics when portrayed as the subject.

    The Heart Of The City

    The Heart Of The City by Stuck In Customs

  4. Good Composition

    While the subject of the photograph does not matter in photography, the way you frame the subject helps in making the photograph impressive. It is the composition of the frame which captivates the viewer’s attention. Learn to place the subject according to the rule of thirds or in the golden ratio, which helps you in placing the subject aesthetically. Alongside, inclusion of lines, patterns, textures, natural frames, etc in the frame helps in drawing the viewer’s eye to your center of interest.

  5. Creatively Photographing The Subject

    Being well-equipped with the photography basics is quite like a giant-baby-step into the passionate world of photography — the first yet the most important. The appreciation of the art depends a lot on the techniques you apply to make the subject stand out distinctly creative. As Ansel Adams rightly said that photography is a creative art, the photographer has to strive for presenting the subject or the scene creatively. Here are some of the techniques to help you get started with creative presentation of ideas.

    • Photograph A Concept: Photographing the concept or the story emanates the thoughts and the issues a photographer is trying to bring forth to the general audience. It is an effective way of communicating the real world scenarios of social disorders, human hardships, inequalities on one hand and serves as the medium of preaching equality on the other hand. These photographs help in establishing the personality of the photographer and act as a good medium for making money with photography. The social concept and the newsworthy stories sell well as stock photographs.
    • Capture The Movement / Activity: While still subjects and posed human portraits are good for presenting the aesthetics of the subject, capturing the movement and the activity of the subject help you in making the creative photographs. For instance, photographing the dancer while giving a performance helps in portraying the natural poses and expressions which can in no way be reproduced in posed portrait photography. Check out the article on shutter speed to learn more about inducing beautiful motion effects.
    • Play Around With Aperture Effects: Knowing the camera modes and using them effectively can help you get creative results. One of the camera modes which offer a great range of creative possibilities and opportunities is the aperture priority mode. While the primary application of this mode is to portray the depth of field, you can creatively use the aperture settings for beautifully blurring the background, creating the bokeh effect, generating the star light effect and even for controlling the vignetting effect. Check out the article on aperture effectsfor a detailed explanation of the aforementioned effects.

      Maize: Summer Time

      Maize: Summer Time by Alesa Dam

    • Portray The Expression: When photographing the portraits (the most common subject), one thing which will help you create impressive photographs is the expressions. The human expressions add liveliness to the otherwise dull photographic plane. The expressions hold back the viewers into the photograph with a urge to understand the speech of the person in the “frame”. You can check out more on capturing expressions here.

    While these are just some of the techniques with which you can make a decent start with the photography, experimenting and learning new things as you advance is the trick behind the trade. Your growth as the photographer teaches you a lot (in terms of creative expression), which you can imply to get stunningly creative photographs.

Still waiting for an impressive subject to photograph?

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2 comments… add one
  • Kram Rocks Feb 28, 2011 @ 20:38

    nice advice. very educational..

  • Dallas Product Photographer Aug 15, 2011 @ 23:07

    Great post.
    When you can’t think of anything to shoot, you can’t go wrong with macro. 1 square foot will keep you busy for hours :)

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