My last blog was about the importance of making backups of your photos while you travel. This time I’ll focus on one of the most important aspects of photography: composition.
In the Picture for “I amsterdam”
Whenever I walk through Schiphol Plaza to catch my train home after a flight, I’m struck by how many travellers have their picture taken in front of the huge “I amsterdam” sign. I wonder what the photos look like. Here, as in so many places in the world, the subject stands ready to be recorded for posterity, while the photographer keeps backing up until the whole object is in the frame.
[tweet text=”I’m struck by how many travellers have their picture taken in front of the huge “I amsterdam” sign.”]
Without seeing the results, I can be pretty sure the photo will be a find-the-face puzzle: You can see the letters but, at that distance, the person will be lost.
Ten a Penny
With a few adjustments you can turn a boring ten-a-penny photo into one that really stands out. I will share a few tips for taking pictures with a person as the main subject, though you can apply these ideas to other images. It doesn’t matter what kind of equipment you have—your phone, a compact camera, or an SLR. And you always have your most important piece of equipment with you: your legs!
The first thing you can do is walk towards the person you are photographing and take a close-up shot. Most of the background will fall away. Focus on the main person and use the site or object as background. By doing this, most of the “noise”—everything that has nothing to with the subject—will largely fall away. You don’t need to photograph the whole person; their head alone may be enough. If you do want the whole body, make sure you include the feet. Feet so often fall out of the frame and that’s not cool. Another option is to choose an angle so that the background subject is entirely within the frame. In this instance, you again choose between the head or the whole body of the person. Play a bit with the viewfinder to see what works best. Better still, take several pictures from different angles and close-ups of the whole person. Then you can decide later which is best.
You can achieve unexpected results by kneeling, especially if the subject isn’t too tall. Kneel and point your camera upwards. In this way, the person you are photographing will often rise above the background. You can now choose to select just the top of the subject for your composition.
You can’t lie down just anywhere and not under all circumstances. Sometimes, though, photographing from close to the ground can generate the most surprising images. Subjects seem to take on new dimensions. Using wide-angle lens, especially, and lying down can turn a boring subject into an exciting photograph.
Try to stand on some steps, or look down from a building, or use anything to get you up a bit higher. This will give you an overview and put the subject in a completely different perspective. If you want to include a person in this photograph, there is a risk they will be swamped by the rest of the image, simply because the distance is too great. You can try to resolve this by using your zoom. You can also try photographing straight down.
In short, dare to deviate from the standard approach when taking photos. Play with the subject, manoeuvre around it, use your imagination, and take photos you will never forget!
Add some creativity to your photos:
- walk towards your ‘subject’. Take close-up photo’s
- kneel, you get an interesting perspective
- lie down for a different angle, but make sure your subject is portrayed nicely. We don’t want to look into someones nostrils!
- climb on top of something nearby and get a birds view
- if you want the whole person in a picture make sure to include the feet