woman hanging laundry 311.
(photo credit: Maxim Reider)
Tom Langford is a commercial photographer, professional retoucher, and a
It’s the job of
professional photographers to take Good Pictures. All over the world,
right at this moment, they are shooting for every sort of client in an
unimaginable variety of situations and conditions. They have one thing
on common – they create excellent images time after time.
that if you ask most of them “how do you take a good picture?” they
would draw a deep breath, look puzzled, and be at a loss for words.RELATED:Photo Critique: Telling a story
course they would be able to explain technical things about equipment
and techniques, but the X-Factor that makes a picture special would
probably be dismissed as having a good “Eye."
This element of
mystery can be very discouraging to a novice photographer: surely an
“Eye” is something you either have or don’t have? Surely you must be
born with it?
There is certainly room for talent, artistry,
flair, and creativity, but all photographers take good care of certain
fundamental principles. In my photography courses I teach five basic steps
to creating Good Pictures – if you understand and practice these steps
your photography will improve by leaps and bounds, and people will begin
to compliment your photographic “Eye”!
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Exercising your imagination
fourth step is "Imagination." Photographers have a highly developed and
practical sense of imagination. I don’t mean they engage in flights of
fancy, but rather that they can visualize variations of the picture they
are about to take.
Each variation may require a different
shooting position, a different camera height, and a different angle and
crop. Each variation will Tell a Story
in a different way.
instance, suppose you are in a nursery and young children are sitting
at the feet of a story-teller. How would you go about taking a Good
Picture rather than a snap?
In less time than it takes to say
“snap” a photographer will have visualized at least three different
pictures taken from different positions, and each one will show the
situation in a unique way.
To help you develop your
photographers imagination here’s an exercise that you can do right now.
All you need is paper, a pencil, and a little imagination.Exercise
three rough rectangles and try to imagine the children and storyteller
from different vantage points. In each frame roughly indicate how each
picture would look. Don’t worry about the quality of your drawings -
just use simple shapes.
Here’s my own effort:
A view of the storyteller, taken low-level from the viewpoint of the children.
Taken from the viewpoint of the storyteller, looking down to the children’s reactions.
It’s worth practicing this exercise several times on paper
using a different subject each time. Then try it when you have time to
take a Good Picture. Don’t use the camera, use your imagination, and
visualise several shots. Work out the position that each shot will be
taken from, and the approximate height and angle of the camera. Only
then should you take out your camera and capture each shot.
my students a trick question: “What is the most important piece of
photographic equipment you will ever use?” Now you know the answer:
“Your head!”Send me your picture
you are aspiring to take good pictures, send me a picture and I will
publish one at the end of my next article with some constructive
Send one picture only, at a reduced size to firstname.lastname@example.org
Langford is a commercial photographer, professional retoucher, and a
website designer. He teaches photography courses for beginners and
advanced. Details of his courses at: www.langford.co.il/courses
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