Have you ever viewed another photographer’s work and really liked it? I have. I have a jealous streak that runs through me and when I see something I like, I make it my business to figure out a way to do that same thing, just as good as the other person did. This happens a lot when I view photography because there are so many great styles out there. I see a whole lot of them and want to make all of them my own. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to do that. Wait, perhaps that’s a good thing.
I was looking around the other day when I stumbled across a page of very interesting photography. The photos were outstanding. All of the shots were more of the close up type and they focused on just one or two things. You see, for the longest time, when I came upon a scene, I was awed by it and wanted to capture the entire thing all at once. My goal was to allow my photography viewers to experience what I’ve just experienced. The only problem with this is that they’ll never be able to view the entire thing and even if they could, through my photography, they’d never get the feeling I got when I stood there in person. And since my widest camera lens is nowhere near wide enough to capture everything, I was left with photographs that captured half of what I wanted and that looked messy and cluttered. Looking back, I think I should have picked a priority target and photographed just that target. This is what the photographer I just referred to did. He chose the most interesting thing in the entire scene and captured the spirit of just that. I’m telling you, some of his photos were magical.
I guess I’m here today to suggest that you stop trying to take in everything with your photography and learn to prioritize your shots. Go for the feeling instead of the documentary. Picture being in Africa, taking photos of lions. Which do you think would evoke more of an emotion in your audience, a wide angle shot of as much land as possible or a very up close shot of a lion roaring. I think the up close shot would be better. That’s the one that would be shared among friends on the internet.
Think about standing on a tall mountaintop near an ocean beach. The waves are huge and the water is expansive. You see people walking around down on the beach and they look so small next to the water. Do you try to capture the entire scene or do you zoom in on just one or two of the people and try to capture their tiny bodies in contrast with the water? I’d suggest the second option. I’d say that contrast would evoke more of an emotion in your viewer.
My point with all this is to simplify your photography. When you look at your scene, try to pick out what matters. Think about things for a few moments. What would you want to see? Try to imagine how someone would feel if viewing your photos. Then, cut away everything else and zoom right in on those subjects that will make someone say, “Wow.”