Monday, November 17, 2014

Stop, Look and Listen

I may not remember much about growing up, but I do remember - "Stop, Look, Listen!"   We were taught to do this before even thinking about crossing a road.  Look to the left and to the right, and listen for approaching vehicles. It was so ingrained in the minds of our generation that it The Stylistics released a soul song by that title in 1971, followed up by Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross in 1974.

It's a good think to remember in photography as well.   Those of us who are nature or landscape photographers can easily fall into the trap of getting to a place and shooting the first thing that looks good to us, then moving on. I call this the shoot and go approach.  It's easy to do, but we miss the great shots by not stopping and looking around.   The first shot we make is most often not the best one.  There are always other angles, other compositions, and other subjects in an area.  Each one can tell a different story.

Here's two examples.   The first shot shows two  Adirondack Chairs under a tree. What' kind of story does this tell?  The leaves n the gree and the grass are still green, but there are brown leaves on the ground under the tree.  It's early fall.  The chairs are inviting under the shade.   Just imagine yourself with your favorite person you enjoy being with sitting in those chairs on a cool fall day listening to birds and watching horses run in the near by pasture.  Sound like a good place to be?   

A photo is more interesting to the viewer if they can imagine themselves in the photo.  It creates a sense of connection.   Can you imagine yourself there?

This was just outside the room where we were staying at Shaker Village in Kentucky.  It was an obvious photo for me, but not the only shot.   Notice the two leaves on the chair on the right?  There was a photo in there as well.

Taken at the same place and the same time of day, this second photo tells a completely different story.  The subject is no longer the chair, lawn, or trees.  You can't even see those things in this composition.  The subject is the dried leaf stuck in the slats.  The first photo had a lot of green and only a little yellow or brown, this photo is almost entirely brown.  To me it is a story of the end of life for the leaf.   Same place, different story.

I could have stayed in a 20 foot circle for an hour taking different pictures of leaves, grass, chairs, and tree trunks.   What possibilities do you see in these photos?

Here's a suggestion for avoiding the shoot and go approach and slowing down to look for photos beyond the obvious.  When you get to a place just stand or sit for a while and take it all in.  Walk around a little and enjoy what God has made.   Don't even try to make a photo until after you have had time to stop, look and listen.   You'll find many more photographic opportunities right in front of you.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Richard! I could probably drive someone nuts taking photos of the small details. I like that you've shown the wider angle shot also. I'm learning to back up and look at the bigger angle for a different perspective.