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Quick Photo Tip: Two Birds With One Stone

 I’m always being asked how do I come up with these weird analogies and the answer is simple. Ideas come into my mind all the time because I’m always watching, reading, and listening…even sleeping. When an idea pops into my mind, I figure I have about five seconds to either pick up my phone, take it out of my pocket, lift it off my nightstand, go to my notes, and jot it down before it vanishes somewhere in the cosmos…usually lost forever; isn’t it hell being old and gray!!!

But I digress.

I like shooting in all kinds of genre be it landscapes, nature, industrial, people, environmental portraits, architecture, etc. The two I like to combine are people and architecture, and this is where the title of this posts comes in.

There are two reasons (birds) I like to do this: one is that people like to see people in photographs. Showing a gondola in Venice floating by itself and tied to a set of stairs down one of the many canals doesn’t say the same thing as a gondola with two young lovers being chauffeured down the same canals by a Gondolier while having a glass of Chianti; especially if they’re backlit by the last rays of a beautiful setting sun.

In my online classes with the BPSOP and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our ever changing planet ( 🙁 ), I’ll often show examples of exactly what I mean; after all isn’t one picture worth a thousand words?

The other reason is I like to include people to show scale of either a building or an architectural detail. The viewer can relate to the size of a person since he’s familiar with average heights, and depending on where you place the person in your composition you can generate visual tension.

For example, placing a person in the middle of the frame and close to the lens gives a feeling of intimacy, whereas placing the person  in the bottom right corner sends a message of loneliness; as well as the feeling of being small in the environment surrounding him or her.

Another way to create Visual Tension is by using body language, gesture, and stopping the action of someone and leaving it un-completed. Blurring a person walking or running through your composition and in front of the building not only adds interest, but adds energy to your images. Color is a good way to draw attention to a person, especially if they’re wearing red.

One last note…when traveling be sure to photograph the people as they are the key to the countries culture.


Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

If you send me a photo and question I’ll create a video critique for you: AskJoeB@gmail.com.


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