People, Land, Things?

Sunset Beach, Vancouver BC. Aug 1st 2015

When I take photos, I always have trouble with deciding what to take photos of. Should I take a landscape photo to capture the natural beauty of the land around me? Should I attempt at taking a portrait to capture fleeting emotions? or should I photograph an object, maybe make it a macro shot, to get those intricate details we miss in everyday life?

I love taking all types of photos because they have costless mistakes and they all have their positives. No matter the difficulty, if you make a mistake, you can try again immediately! (most of the time)

So why should we choose one type to focus on? Why not indiscriminately take photos of everything like your 4-year-old cousin at a Christmas party with a point-and-shoot? I mean, it’s not a bad thing to be curious and take as many photos as you can. But pacing yourself and having set goals for a shoot is a good way to hone your skills. The photo here is a good example of what I try to avoid now. It’s a smattering of everything. Sun, sky, mountains, people, water, refractions on the lens, sand, silhouettes, you name it.

I wanted to capture the essence of being at the beach at sunset in this photo. But at first glance, it feels just like nothing. You have to look at the photo to find the details, only to be disappointed that you didn’t find what you were thinking of seeing at a beach. Taking a photo should guide the viewer, just like design does, but with your natural surroundings.

Here’s an example:

A slightly better photo taken on the same day

This photo is admittedly not a great one, but it’s one that I took on the same day. It’s at least a half-decent example of what I mentioned. The sun might be the first thing you notice, then the water and ships, then the chair. This might make you feel like you’re watching the sunset in the context of being on a folding chair, or maybe cold in contrast to the right side of the image.

This image could have been taken with more focus on the chair and the sun, maybe having the chair directly in front of the camera with the sun being above it, or maybe through it. But we can still see the relationship of the elements captured.

Today, when I take an image, I think about what I want someone to see and feel. What do I want to capture that I can feel from around me? Who’s looking at this? Why does it make you want to look at it?

Here’s a more recent example:

This photo has clear points of interest and guide the viewer through the scene. Admittedly the crop is a bit off, but better nonetheless.

AHHH I need to re-take these now! It’s bothering me too much. Need to get better!!

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