There is a difference between taking pictures and making photographs. The first is a casual act; the latter is a contemplative one. It is possible to produce interesting images either way, but making photographs is done with much greater attention and intention.
Last week, I asked about some of the ways you go about slowing down and making photography a more contemplative, creative act. Today, I’d like to share a few of my own approaches.
- Set the camera aside. Just sit for a while or take a walk and become more aware of your surroundings. I believe this is especially important in nature, but may be equally important and insightful in other surroundings, as well. This can help you slow down and become more in tune with a place. It can also allow you to see things you might otherwise miss.
- Notice your first impressions. Sometimes they are the most important impressions; other times they are misleading. It is your job to discern the difference.
- When something attracts your attention, think about why it does that. What compels you and how might you best emphasize or translate than photographically?
- If possible, move around your subject and look at it from all angles. Notice not only the subject, but how the light falls on it, what is behind it, and what is beside it that might be encroaching on your image. This can apply whether you are photographing a flower or garden, a stone or a mountain, a doorway or a building.
- Focus more on making one great photograph than taking lots of shots.
- Stop often to look up from what you are photographing. Notice how the light is shifting, what may be falling in or out of shadow, and what is taking place around you. If you are shooting close-up, observe the overall scene. If you are photographing a broad scene, take a look at the details around you.
- Eliminate distractions. Might you need to turn off your phone? Get away on your own for a bit when traveling with others? Go to a quieter location?
- Pay attention not only to the subject, but how it makes you feel. Can you bring some of that emotion into your photograph?
- Let go of expectations (both your own and those of others). Instead of worrying about how to get a great shot, allow the scene to speak to you.
Do any of these resonate with you? What would you add to the list?