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Food for Digital Thought: Slow Down and Smell the Roses

When I slowed down and started smelling the roses, I saw this right before my eyes.

I’ve  been an advertising and corporate photographer for almost fifty years and I’ve also been teaching  my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops for thirty-four of those years and an online class with the BPSOP for six. One occurring theme throughout all these years is when I observe photographers taking pictures…which has happened a lot!!!


What I just about always see is a student taking a photo without taking any time at all between the time he/she first sees something they think is worthwild enough to bring the camera up to their eye, to clicking the shutter, to moving on to look for something else to shoot. They don’t spend enough time to smell the roses.

They will invariably walk up to a subject or location, shoot the first idea that comes to mind, and then move on leaving a lot still ‘on the table’. By the way, the photograph is usually taken at eye level and horizontal since it’s the easiest and less stressful way to compose.  STOP!!! Don’t leave!!! Use this first shot for what I call the ‘Master Shot’ and stick around to observe what else is going on.

Look at your subject from as many different positions as you can. While doing so check out where the sun is and how it’s affecting your composition. Btw, this is probably what I see happening the most when I observe my fellow photographers about to take a picture. I can tell you that your odds for coming back home with a good photo will greatly increase if you just take a second to observe what’s going on around you.

Having said all this, there’s going to be times when you don’t have the extra time to think before you shoot. I’m talking about street shooting when capturing the moment is essential in creating strong memorable images. Of course if you’re always thinking about what I’ve been saying you have an even better chance of capturing that moment in time and have great light on your subject at the same time…and this can be somewhat controlled…how you say?

By picking the side of the street to walk on. If I’m walking on the shady side of the street I’m going to look for ways for the sun to hit certain areas. For example buildings of different sizes next to each other, intersections close together allowing light to come down the street highlighting some areas and keeping some in shadow…a great combination.

If I choose to walk on the sunny side I then look for areas in shadow. Remember that the use of light and contrast are two ways to generate visual tension.

All this boils down to one thing to remember. Think before you act, slow down and smell the roses.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out upcoming workshops at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

Send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll crate a video critique for you.


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