Secrets of taking good pictures: Points of view

Photography expert Tom Langford explains why two photographers at the same scene can end up with very different results.

June 12, 2013 12:19
3 minute read.

Camera 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

Ask two photographers to shoot the same scene using a similar camera and you will end up with two very different pictures. One of the most rewarding aspects of photography is that every photographer has a different way of looking at the world and shows this through their pictures.

The transition from being an enthusiastic snapper to a mature photographer is challenging, frustrating and exciting. Equipment and techniques are relatively easy to master – the difficulty is to develop a unique point of view. Only when you understand what you want your pictures to say will you be able to take them effectively.

Here’s an example of how our vision shapes the way we shoot: Early on in my photography career I remember walking with a friend through a large park in North London. His very young son was sitting in a buggy that he was pushing. The child looked so small and helpless on top of the buggy. The image of a princess locked in the tower of a castle came to mind.

When we stopped to take in the view he casually took a family snap looking down at his son. I was standing right beside him and had a compact camera with me. I also took a picture, but I instinctively squatted down to take a picture looking up at the buggy, showing just little of the child’s head and hands.

At the time I was puzzled about how two people standing shoulder to shoulder could take two very different pictures. I realized later that I had shown the helplessness of the youngster, as if trapped at the top of the towering buggy.

I had a point of view: My photograph was about the vulnerability of childhood.

Points of view

I recently had the privilege of curating the latest photography exhibition at the American and Canadian Institute (AACI) in Netanya. The theme was “My Best Shot” and there were many entries that showed just how differently photographers view the world.

This excellent shot taken by Nathan Ginsbury focuses on the extraordinary masks and costumes worn during the Venice carnival.

This is another of Nathan’s pictures, beautifully shot and begging to me made into a postcard.

This excellent shot from Jack Cohen shows a totally side of Venice we rarely see. I hung it next to Nathan’s shots for them to compliment each other.

Here is a great shot from Meira Kingberg. She has created a wonderful composition by using turning her camera on the side to include all of the stairs and surrounding architecture. Placing the officials at the bottom right shows a mature grasp of compositional technique. A snapper would have merely zoomed in on the men.

It’s easy to take snaps of smiling children, but Stanley Hirsch has taken this extraordinary shot that demonstrates the power of having an individual point of view. To capture such a tightly composed shot at just the right moment is quite an achievement.

Bernard Olsburgh’s shot shows us how photography opens up our vision to appreciate the extraordinary in the ordinary. Most of us would have walked past this discarded mannequin and not even noticed it. Bernard has captured the beauty in the mundane. It works on many levels and is a compelling image.

In the dead of night most photographers would lay down their cameras. Zak Hirsch, however, took this dramatic and atmospheric shot using a long exposure time with his camera on a tripod. The remoteness of the solitary hut is captured against the backdrop of a magnificent mountain range which is also reflected in the lake.

All of these pictures demonstrate that good photography depends on having a point of view. The more you have to put into a picture the more your viewers will get out of it.

Picture Clinic 

If you would like to develop your photography skills, you are welcome to send to me one of your pictures that I may publish with some constructive feedback. Upload your picture here:

Tom Langford is an Event and Commercial photographer in Israel: &

Details of his next photography and retouching courses in Israel:

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