(photo credit: Reuters)
Tom Langford is an event and commercial photographer, professional retoucher, and a website designer.
was invented in the early 19th century. For the first 70 years it was a
skillful and expensive craft that only very wealthy individuals and
professional photographers could practice.
By the turn of the
20th century the technology had developed enormously and the first
hand-held, portable cameras were being mass-produced: They were
incredibly popular and required no photographic skill to use. The era of
the snap had dawned.
Snaps and photographs
are important private documents that reawaken memories of times past -
they have to be verbally explained to outsiders who didn’t share the
original experience. Good photographs, on the other hand, are complete
in themselves - they require no explanation and transcend time and
Everyone has a snap that accidentally turned out to be a
good photograph, usually a sunset shot, but it can be difficult for
enthusiasts to intentionally create images that communicate universally
and do not need a commentary.
The trick is to understand just
what interests you about a picture before you take it, and then find the
best composition and moment to shoot that clearly conveys your vision.
Telling a story without words
Lerner sent in some pictures taken in Israel during a recent trip and
asked for some advice about how they could be improved by cropping,
altering the color, improving the composition, and so on.
afraid that pictures can be improved afterwards only if their messages
are clear: Cosmetic changes won’t have any significant effect if the
picture has no apparent story to tell.
picture shows two groups of people - one in official uniforms, the
other in orthodox Jewish clothing. There’s a lot of potential here to
tell an interesting story or show a photo-journalistic point of view.
picture communicates that the photographer found the scene interesting
enough to point the camera and shoot, but does not indicate what that
interest was. The primary and secondary focal points are a uniformed
figure, placed in the center of the picture, and an orthodox figure to
the left. It isn’t clear what their relationship is or why the
photographer chose to capture this particular moment.
there was some group interaction that caught the photographer’s
attention, or some intriguing feeling in the air. The shot may bring
back those personal memories to the photographer, but they are not
communicated by the picture. Cosmetic changes will not have any
significant effect here.
It’s a sobering thought that pictures
have only a split second in which to interest the viewer. If they don’t
instantly begin to tell us why they were taken then we can easily pass
time the picture immediately communicates that the photographer has a
strong empathy with Judaism. The out-of-focus background gives it a very
artistic feel. It could be used in a magazine, or for a poster to
support a pro-Jewish stance.
Although the strength of this
picture is that its message is clear and general, my own preference is
to add a secondary focal point to provide more of a story as I have
roughly indicated below:
progress in photography isn’t easy, thank goodness, or it wouldn’t be
such a satisfying and enjoyable pursuit. Understanding what you want to
say before you shoot is difficult; learning to see your photographs
without the personal associations they trigger is essential; striving to
create a good result is often frustrating but always worthwhile. Constructive
Feedback Aspiring photographer can send pictures to be used in future articles for constructive
feedback. Send one picture only, at a small size to suitable for emails
Not sure how to send a photo by email at a small size? Look at this Brief Guide to Picasa: www.langford.co.il/courses/PicasaGuide.html
Langford is an Event and Commercial photographer, website designer, and
professional retoucher. He teaches photography courses for beginners
and improvers. Details at:http://www.langford.co.il/courses and http://weddingseventsisrael.com.