Over the past five years, I found that in both my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct, people that are just now starting to understand the “why and the how” of photography are not quite confident in what they put or don’t put into a photograph.
As the level of my fellow photographers images goes up to what I refer to as up a notch, striving for that OMG shot, that photo that can become a wall-hanger, will become more difficult; at least in their minds. You can read more about it in a post I did under the category “My favorite quotes” and was about Edgar Degas, who once said, “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, very difficult when you do”.
So, the tendency is to put more than you need to get your message across. To that I always say, “When it doubt leave it out”.
This might mean taking a little more time when composing, and there lies the rub. I’ve found that after thirty years of showing people how to create stronger images, people just are not willing to take the extra time. I can tell you from my fifty years of shooting, that’s what it will take.
Photography is the art of subtraction. When you have a blank canvas on an easel you fill it up with all different pigment until you get the desired effect; a camera on a tripod is just the opposite.
When you raise the camera up to your eye and look through the viewfinder, it’s already filled with some sort of composition based on the environment you happen to be standing it. To me that’s when the real thought process, the real photography begins.
It begins by the photographer choosing what to leave in and what to take out, and this is where it gets a little tricky! This is when you decide what you need to create that illusive keeper.
This is when, and I’ve seen it a thousand times, one will tend to put or keep in too much because of the lack of confidence; the moment when your photo is about to go up one level.
In the above image I shot on a very cold and foggy day in a small Medieval village north of Taromina, People walking around were few and far between. I saw these two men walking down a very small cobblestone street and was immediately drawn to his red sweater; since finding color anywhere would have been a blessing.
However, I didn’t want to show very much of the sky sine it was so gloomy. I decided to come in close to the older man while still giving the viewer a clear message that he was being helped by a friend or family member. To me leaving the rest of the man out added another dimension…Closure in the Psychology of Gestalt.
If you have happened to take my online classes where I show photographers how to incorporate the elements of visual design into their photos, the job is considerably easier; because now you know what to look for.
Although I’m a firm believer in the expression, “if more’s better then too much is just right”, in this scenario more is definitely not better.
I leave you with one last thought…if you have the opportunity shoot it both ways and look at both images side by side on your monitor and them make the decision.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.
Send me a photo with a question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.