the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

TAKE WHAT YOU NEED AND LEAVE THE REST

By MICHAEL PERKINS

LOOKING OVER MY LIFETIME “FAIL” PHOTOGRAPHS, FROM EARLIEST TO LATEST, it’s pretty easy to make a short list of the three main problems with nearly all of them, to wit:

Too Busy.

Too Much Stuff Going On.

I Don’t Know Where I’m Supposed To Be Looking.

Okay, you got me. It’s the same problem re-worded three ways. And that’s the point, not only with my snafus but with nearly other picture that fails to connect with anybody, anywhere. As salesmen do, photographers are always “asking for the order”, or, in this case, the attention of the viewer. Often we can’t be there when our most earnest work is seen by others. If the images don’t effectively say, this is the point of the picture, then we haven’t closed the deal.

It’s not simple, but, yeah, it is that simple.

If we don’t properly direct people to the main focus of our story, then we leave our audiences wandering in the woods, looking for a way out. Is it this path? Or this one? 

In our present era, where it’s possible to properly expose nearly everything in the frame, we sometimes lose a connection to the darkness, as a way to cloak the unimportant, to minimize distraction, to force the view into a succinct part of the image. Nothing says don’t look here like a big patch of black, and if we spend too much time trying to show everything in full illumination, we could be throwing away our simplest and best prop.

Let sleeping wives lie. Work the darkness like any other tool.

Let sleeping wives lie. Work the darkness like any other tool. 1/40 sec., f/1.8, ISO 1250 (the edge of pain), 35mm.

In the above picture of my beautiful Marian, I had one simple mission, really. Show that soft sleeping face. A little texture from the nearby pillows works all right, but I’m just going to waste time and spontaneity rigging up a tripod to expose long enough to show extra detail in the chair she’s on, her sweatshirt, or any other surrounding stuff, and for what? Main point to consider:  she’s sleeping, and (trust me) sleeping lightly, so one extra click might be just enough to end her catnap (hint: reject this option). Other point: taking extra trial-and-error shots just to show other elements in the room will give nothing to the picture. Make it a snapshot, jack up the ISO enough to get her face, and live with the extra digital noise. Click and done.

For better or worse.

Composition-wise, that’s often the choice. If you can’t make it better, for #%$&!’s  sake don’t make it worse.

Follow Michael Perkins on Twitter @MPnormaleye.

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