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Did It Do It: Did It Convey Your Idea or Thoughts?

Shot for the Shell Oil 18 Wheel Tractor Trailer Calendar. DID IT convey the month of July?

Shot for the Shell Oil 18 Wheel Tractor Trailer Calendar. DID IT convey the month of July?

When I’m working with my online class with the PPSOP, or conducting my “Stretching Yor Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. I’m always handing out information on ways to take my students photos what I refer to as “Up a Notch”.

One of the first pieces of information I hand out is what I call my “Did It Do It” list for good composition. There are twelve of them I will to be discussing from time to time with you, and the first one I want to talk about now is: “DID IT convey your idea or thoughts”.

One of the issues I’m always exploring with my students is whether or not their idea or train of thought is too esoteric for everyone to understand. This happens a lot because we tend to give way toooooooooooo credit to the viewer. One of the few perks in being my age (66) is knowing through experience NOT to give too much credit to anyone. This especially holds true for photography. Unless you’re representing your idea in an abstract form, be sure to always consider the scene, and it’s outcome. Make sure it says what you intended.

Remember that you won’t always be around to explain your thought. It needs to stand on its own without any help. One of my favorite photo quotes comes from an Anonymous writer who said, “I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good”.

These are guidelines for good composition, not rules. A lot of my followers know that by now, I don’t like rules!!!!

Visit my wbsite at: www.joebaraban.com, and also ccheck out my 2012 workshop schedule. Come shoot with me sometime.



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    { 14 comments… add one }
    • Thilo January 10, 2012, 6:22 am

      Dit it convey the month of July? Not to me. Is that an American thing that fireworks=july 4th ???
      What I see is two folks with longs sleeves who drove by their truck to a fireworks shop…
      So, like with everything you create/write/paint/photograph, you have to tailor it to the audience?

      • Joe January 10, 2012, 8:35 am


        Why in the world would it make sense to you?????????????????????????? Don’t you live in Holland?????????????????? It’s called July 4th, because that’s the birthday of this country. I don’t need to convey any message to you!!!!!!!

    • Thilo January 12, 2012, 4:52 am

      I have the impression that we are both saying the same thing, just with very different words…

      • Joe January 12, 2012, 8:49 am


        You’re right! Since you’re probably not on Shell’s Rotella Oil’s mailing list, you might not understand that I was representing the month of July (4th) and not get it!!!

        I’m thinking that anyone that wears shoes made out of wood would probably say things differently than I do!!!!



    • Valeriano January 20, 2012, 5:11 am

      Everything in this photo screams “USA”: ugly bottom up shirts —sorry about that but I’m italian and we care about style ;)— graphic in the store’s sign and finally the HUGE truck.
      Even whom has never visited USA once in his life knows that on 4th of July people would do fireworks in USA to celebrate the Independence Day, by just watching movies or a freaking news channel on TV.

      • Joe January 21, 2012, 5:04 pm


        You’re talking a man that drives a tractor trailer, sometimes from coast to coast. He eats and sleeps in this rig, and it’s a home. The last thing he cares about is his wardrobe. He probably buys his clothes at Wal’Mart, maybe Target but certainly not at Armani.

        I assure you that most of us care about the way we look as well as the Italians.

        I digress!!!

        Of course you’re right. The only viewer I care about convincing is the ones that receive the calendar.


    • Valeriano January 23, 2012, 1:42 pm

      I know… That was just to kid around with some cliché! 😉 

      BTW the shot, in my opinion, really conveys July 4th!

      PS When I’m in USA I always give it a try at Target for something to wear. Good taste never depends on a brand, nor the cost of a textile.

      • Joe January 23, 2012, 1:59 pm

        I figured!!!

        You’re still right about it screaming the 4th of July!!!!!

    • J Poulsen April 21, 2012, 10:49 am

      Maybe your country was born some 4th of july, but the land and territory and the inhabitants living there was born way back in ancient time, after that some of my ancestors eventually found that territory long before anybody there was thinking of any country. 

      Btw….if the photo is sitting in a calendar in july and send to US-citicens, somebody might get the idea that this is maybe related to the 4th., but….

      “did it do it” ? Hmmmm……if a photo should do it by itself without specifying what it is showing, then this may be a fail, as it is important to get direction and instructions to know its sitting in a calendar in july and the calendar is displayed in USA. Such “description”….isn´t it the same as the one with the joke ?

      But if the meaning about “did it do it” is that the photo should be in the right place at the right time, it´s a pass.

      • Joe April 22, 2012, 5:15 pm


        Maybe you should read up on some history of the US. When you do, you’ll find that the 4th of July commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which gave us our freedom from Great Britain. If you have a gripe about the land being taken from your ancestors, you have a damn good reason to express yourself, but I question this venue to take up your cause.

        As far as it “conveying my thought or idea”, it did. It was a calendar with twelve pictures, one representing each month. This photo represented the month of July, which is the month we celebrate that signing. Traditionally, we light off fireworks on the fourth. This was the only use for the photo, so it conveyed the message rather convincingly; especially since there are two people standing in front of a firework store holding sparklers!

        Thanks for checking out my blog, and I appreciate your comments.


    • Mary Fitzgerald September 15, 2012, 9:26 pm

      I just discovered you! What a jewel!
      I’m amazed at the “variety” of comments you get……
      I’ll be watching regularly.
      Love your work. 

      • Joe September 16, 2012, 11:51 am

        Thanks Mary!!!

    • Debby Currie May 16, 2017, 1:08 pm

      Hi Joe,
      YES I DO get it! I’m your northern neighbor.
      My ? is about the light. I’m always so impressed with your in camera images. What sort of lighting did you use for the image? The building is well lit and I love the light on the truck. I’m still trying to figure out light and how to use it.

      • Joe May 16, 2017, 1:16 pm


        Thank you.

        The building was like that. I lit the truck with additional light and I made sure the exposure on the truck matched that of the building. Then I lit the two people separately and made the exposure on them match the truck and the building so they would all go together and look right. I used a one degree meter. This meter can read just one degree of reflected light at a time so i could take three separate readings and get them to all be close in exposure….simply by moving the lights on the truck closer or farther away…the same with the people…to match the building.


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