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Personal Pearls of Wisdom: Don’t shoot because it makes you feel good, shoot because it looks good.

Feels good, looks good, and has meaning.

OK, I hope this doesn’t draw angry letters or bomb threats since at first this “Pearl of Wisdom” might seem a little harsh and insensitive but there’s a reason for my madness.

When I get a submission in my online class with the BPSOP, or a photo presented to me during one of the daily reviews in  my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct all over the place, there is usually feedback in the form of an explanation as to why the photo was shot in the first place.

I will often say to the photographer, “Ok, tell me about this shot. Why did you decide to click the shutter?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve  heard someone say…”besides it was just so cute I couldn’t help myself”, I would be writing this posts from my own island after one of my staff brought me a blue and frothy drink with an umbrella hanging perilously down from one side.

That’s all well and good and I love having my fellow photographers feeling terrific about the world and the environment that surrounds them; but if the photo doesn’t have some meaning to others, it won’t stand the test of time.

I’m as sentimental as the next guy and I like feeling good about things that I see on a daily basis, but I’m also out there trying to take photos that look good…and if they make me feel good doing it so much the better; usually it’s one in the same since I love taking pictures.

For example, I’m walking down the street and I see a child getting licked in the face by a puppy I will probably say to myself, “oh how cute”, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take a picture of it…unless maybe it’s my kid and puppy, and it’s going into a time capsule to be opened with they get engaged or married and I show all the guests how cute they were when they were little.

I digress.

Now, if that same child and puppy is not the entire puzzle but a piece of it, then I’m going to take a closer look. In other words if there’s something else going on around them, something that tells or completes a story, then I will stop…providing I obtain permission from the parent beforehand.

What if the kid being licked is a freckled-face darling little girl, wearing a white lace dress with bows tied around her pigtails while behind or next to them is a bunch of dirty, huge, hard hat wearing constructions workers sitting around having lunch? Then you have a dichotomy, and that would give the photo a different meaning…why you ask?

Because you would be combining opposites in the same composition and in so doing you’re creating visual tension.

See what I mean?

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2018 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. I’ve a couple of openings in my Springtime in Berlin workshop next May 23rd. A fantastic city with so many great locations we’re going to be shooting.

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


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