Develop A Strategy

Most photographers tend to gravitate toward specific subject matter
Most photographers tend to gravitate toward specific subject matter. For instance, my passions are Nature and People, in addition to Travel when I can do it. I’m sure most of you fall into a certain niche and tend to stick with it. But what about those times when you get asked to photograph something out of your comfort zone - do you graciously decline and let someone else do it or do you view it as a challenge and opportunity to learn something new? Being one who loves a challenge, I often accept knowing I have to do a lot of prep work to do the job right. This leads me to the focus of this week’s tip. It’s essential to develop a strategy to be successful.

To try something different, I chose the topic of architecture. While it’s not a passion, it’s one where I’ve seen some great shots and provides the opportunity to capture some good images. With this in mind I want to share with you how I developed a strategy to capture architectural photos. If it’s a subject you’ve often thought about photographing, perfect. If not, the same principles apply.

Outdoor Photographer Tip Of The Week

The Basics - as with any successful picture, the light, composition and technical aspects should be spot on. TIme of day becomes important in that the direction of the light along with its color play a huge role in determining the success of the photo. For instance, if the front facade of the structure is backlit at sunrise, you need to revisit the location at sunset to get warm light. The strategy to learn here is to know where and from what direction the sun hits your subject at sunrise, mid day and at sunset. With regards to composition, what can be included in the image to enhance the building or what needs to be eliminated so it’s not a distraction? If a leading line can be incorporated into the composition, use it. If the use of a different lens provides great perspective, use it. If parts of the environment can be included to frame the building, include them. The strategy to learn here is to look at your subject with open eyes and an open mind to make sure you don’t leave before you’ve exhausted all photographic possibilities.

Outdoor Photographer Tip Of The Week

If it’s been awhile since you last picked up the camera, give yourself a refresher course. Make sure you remember how to control depth of field to obtain foreground to background sharpness or how to create narrow depth of field to create selective focus. In each of the images accompanying this article, it was essential I had lots of depth of field. Make sure you have extra batteries, memory cards in addition to all the other items that can easily be taken for granted. The strategy to learn here is to be prepared. Inevitably something will go wrong if you’re not. If you are, it’s one less thing to stress about to solve a problem.

Strategy - read magazines that focus on the subject matter you wish to photograph. Study the photos that make you wish you were the photographer and analyze what the photographer did to achieve the image. Strategy - in your every day travels, pay particular attention to similar subjects you want to photograph to see if they look good or bad. If they look bad, analyze why and avoid similar conditions for the time you need to do your job. If they look good, repeat these circumstances - is it the quality of light, its direction, the angle of how you view it, etc.? While limited space prevents me from going into all aspects of what you need to do to develop a strategy, you get the idea. Use these guidelines as a foundation so the next time someone asks you to leave your comfort zone, you’ll feel more comfortable saying YES.


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