When I’m out walking the streets whether it be in Paris, Lisbon, New York, recently in Cuba, or in my own backyard, I pretty much follow the same routine. That is, I look for all the elements of Visual Design, light, and color. Any of these are what I call pieces to a puzzle, and when I can get enough of these pieces, I look for something that can tie them all together. The final touch, the glue, the last “layer of interest” that can complete my work of art…my photo.
If I see something that fits the bill, and I have the time to wait, I’ll find a nice comfortable place to sit (hopefully) or stand and wait. The hurry up part is to get what I think is the best exposure and lock it in to my manual settings. I arrange my composition to allow for that certain something, and when it comes I’ll know it.
It could come in a second, a minute, or ten minutes. The longer I’m willing to devote to it depend entirely on how important I think the photo could be. One thing I know from years of experience is that if and when it comes, I’m not going to have a lot of time to shoot; and as Eddie Adams once said, “When you get lucky, be ready”.
The above photo was taken on my recent third trip to Cuba for the Santa Fe Workshops. We were in a small town an hour outside of Havana, and it was mid morning. The sun was sky high, and it was incredibly hot with little to no shade; too hot to walk around aimlessly. Across the small square I spotted a brick wall with a grouping of buildings behind it.
I immediately saw the yellow and turquoise shapes, and what I also saw were semi-squares that created a pattern. These are two of the basic elements of visual design. I loved the way the colors seemed to be in harmony and quickly took a vertical approach, minimizing the semi-squares that weren’t yellow. I always take into account what I always tell my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, “It’s not what you put in your pictures that counts, it’s what you don’t put in that matters”.
Ok, the hurry-up part was done, all I needed was that certain something to happen. Several people walked by, but no one was wearing anything colorful. After a longer period of time than I wanted given the time of day and the temperature, I spotted a mother and daughter sitting on a bench behind me.
The daughter was wearing exactly what I was looking for, so I asked the mother if they would cross the street and walk by the concrete wall. The little girl began walking at a faster pace maybe ten feet in front, she suddenly stopped, and stuck her head into one of the semi-squares. I was able to get off one frame before the mom came into the frame, said something to the girl and took her away.
If I hadn’t seen past my first impression and used my Artist Palette, had my composition and exposure set, and was able to minimize an ordinary hot blue sky, I would not have been able to capture this moment in time.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out the workshops I offer at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.
Keep those photos and questions coming to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique of your photo.