With the easy availability of cameras and at very affordable prices, the number of people clicking photos is at its all time high. Some famous photographers have gone to the extent of saying that anything and everything that can be photographed has already been photographed. So, how do you make your photograph stand out from the crowd?
(Most of the things that I will be mentioning in this article, I have already written in other places. This is more like a compilation of those points.)
Here is the list of shots that you should avoid –
These are exactly what the name says. Visit any tourist spot and check out the souvenir shops. The post-cards, coffee-table books and photographs on sale, are the ones that I like to call as post-card shots. Every visitor captures these photographs. Why do you want to waste your effort in capturing something that every person with a camera is already capturing? In fact, almost every person with a mobile phone camera also tries to capture these post-card shots. Do you also want to be another one in the long list of these snap-shooters?
Pictures of beautiful scenes / locations
These are again similar to the post-card shots that I have mentioned earlier. Think of the famous tourist destinations. I have seen scores of locations marked as ‘Photo-points’. Can you image the number of photographs that would have been captured at this very location showing the same very scene?
Even if it is out in the wilderness but the scene itself is beautiful. Capturing it to show just that beauty beats the purpose. Any snap-shooter can do that. Try to put your efforts in bringing out whatever it is that attracts you to that particular scene.
Cliché Shots and Darkroom Editing
The shot of the Taj-Mahal with the frame of the grand entrance door around it, the bride stands while the groom kneels down and kisses the back of her hand, photograph of your friend with the hand raised trying to touch the top of the Eiffel tower far behind.
Similarly, excessively dark vignettes, selective coloring, sepia toning… all these are rampant everywhere. Instagram, whatsapp groups and social networking sites are full of such photographs. These come, earn a few ‘wows’ and ‘likes’ and then fade away from our memories. Avoid these too.
This is what I recommend that you should be doing (I am also trying to learn and do the same) –
This sub-title itself may sound cliché but it is what actually makes your photographs memorable. I have seen hundreds of excellent butterfly photographs but there is just one specific photograph that I still remember. One of my friends captured this photograph in a manner that the subject was framed in a spiral twig. The twig formed a natural frame and an empowering line leading to the subject. The photograph has stuck in my mind.
(Butterfly framed in a natural twist. I was permitted to use this photograph here after I wrote the article and discussed with him about it.)
Similarly, another friend of mine captured a photograph in a circus where one of the assistants was holding up a pole of some sort and looking upwards to whatever was there on the pole. A normal shot would have been of what was happening on top of that pole, but this photographer instead captured the unusual shot of the person below. The photograph does not show the top. There are lines in the background which converge to a point outside of the frame on the top. The subject also is looking up. A powerful photograph with the point of interest a mystery. A true masterpiece is created!
(Way Up – An unusual perspective and a very strong photograph. Also notice all the converging lines to the top, to a point outside the frame. Similar to the above photograph, this too was added after writing the article)
I remember a visit to the famous Taj-Mahal some years back. My favorite photograph from that trip is that of a tourist, dressed up in red, walking on one side of the monument. She is looking at something on the opposite side of the monument. (See this article for that photograph – Composition Rules – Part II)
Break the Rules
All the rules that photographers say and which I too have written a few articles on, break them. Forget them. They have gotten too repetitive now. Viewers need something new to look at. Something with drama, powerful composition, unusual. Something that does not let your attention wander off.
Sometimes I feel that those rules are just figment of imagination. (Do check this out – Myths in Photography? You decide!)
Be clear in your mind
Know your photograph. Visualize it before photographing (Learning to Visualize). Every element in the photograph should contribute to the complete image. Even if you happen to have a stray dog in that beloved street photograph of yours, make sure that it contributes something to the overall composition. Be very clear in your own mind as to what you are trying to show.
Butterfly in a frame – Jasmeet Singh / All rights reserved
Way Up – Kamal Nain Saxena / All rights reserved