Get Closer for a Better Photo

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I’ve taken my share of ho-hum photos. The ones that show where I was and what I saw. You know the kind- they’re usually from far away and show the entire subject, plus extra unimportant stuff around the sides. You captured the person, place, or thing, but did you capture what you felt?

About five years ago, I picked up Nick Kelsh’s book, How to Photograph Your Life: Capturing Everyday Moments with Your Camera and Your Heart. That Christmas I even picked up a few extra copies to give as gifts. Each two page spread provides a standard shot beside an equivalent upgraded shot, with an explanation of why one is better. It made me think about photography in a way that I had previously disregarded, thinking that’s not how you take pictures. If you’re taking pictures of people you usually line ’em up. Maybe lined up on a couch for a more relaxed look. And that building? Back up, so you can get the whole thing. Not so. Clustering people in a way that gets their faces close together can make for an interesting shot. And if I like the iron detail over the window of a building, why not close right in on that window?

After reading that book, I realized that a lot of the same techniques were used in Real Simple magazine, one of my favorite subscriptions at the time, which I loved for it’s clean, inviting layout and images. That was all the permission I needed to toss out the old rules and take photographs that I love.

img_3131_200w.jpgAll of this must have had some effect on me. While going through some photos today, I realized what a difference it makes. Take, for instance, the above photo of a statue in a garden. Her silhouette is defined. She is soaking in the sun. This photograph captures what I felt when seeing her. To the right is that same statue, but here, it’s just a statue. Granted, it is a beautiful work of art. The photograph, however, lacks emotion.

Before you haphazardly take your next shot, think about what it is you love about what is in front of you. Then go capture a feeling rather than just another picture.

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