The Benefit Of Photography With Friends

Don't call them "snapshots." Thoughtfully composing a landscape image with a travel companion in the frame can yield memorable results.

I suspect that many of you reading this article will be able to relate to the sentiment of preferring solitude when you’re out shooting. I don’t know why, but any inclination to socialize or be around other people when I’m out with my camera in nature vaporizes into thin air. It’s something that I constantly tell myself that I can’t be bothered with.

However, that notion seemed to waver a bit recently as I browsed through my Lightroom catalog. I saw a series of photos taken in different parts of the world with one of my closest buds, Colby Brown, and a wave of nostalgia hit me.

Perhaps it is because I’ve long equated photos of people in my compositions as “snapshots,” which, in and of itself, is a wholly reductive way of thinking—as if there’s anything inherently wrong with snapshots. But what I found as I browsed through this collection of photos is that I managed to fuse the very same compositional and technical steps that I would with a “typical” landscape shot within these candid portraits.

In other words, these are photos that I am truly happy with in terms of composition and technical application. It also made me appreciate how special it is to be able to travel with a close friend, a spouse or family member and to be able to creatively incorporate them into your photos.

In virtually every case, my goal has been to capture the person—Colby, in this case—as candidly as possible. I am not a portrait photographer, nor would I ever claim to be one. I don’t enjoy directing people to pose certain ways. In fact, I don’t enjoy communicating at all while I’m shooting. On top of that, most of these photos were taken while waiting for Colby to, you know, get out of my shot. So, rather than burn the time, I figured it’d be worthwhile to find creative ways to incorporate him. 

In virtually every instance, I’ve been that much happier with the decision. So the next time you’re out shooting with a friend or family member, consider whether you can find creative ways to include them in your shot. I suspect the memories of those photos will pay back with dividends as the years go by.


See more of Brian Matiash’s work at learn.matiash.com.

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