from the series: Wish You Were Here
from the series: Wish You Were Here
It seems that good photos have just the right amount of content—not too busy, not too sparse. One famous quote from National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, advises, “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” And if you happen to be standing in front of some interesting stuff, there is always the question of how much to include in the frame.
American photographer Lee Friedlander, famous for his pioneering photos of the urban social landscape, has a talent for filling his photos with visual content without making them seem overly crowded. Eric Kim (whom I also cited last week) writes on his blog, ”Friedlander was very conscious of how he framed his scenes, and wanted to add more complexity to his shots through adding content of interest.”
Lee Friedlander accomplished this by using a wide-angle lens—usually a 35mm. That way objects in the foreground can remain in focus along with background elements. Though complexity is not always the answer, it certainly adds interest.
Photo tip: If you have a wide-angle lens, try shooting with only that lens for a week or two. Make note of how this perspective changes the content in your photos.
You have probably had the experience of taking a casual walk with your camera and feeling your mood improve as you see and capture some interesting scenes. Or had a wonderful experience looking at an old family photo album. Art therapy has been used forever, and photography is just one of its applications.
When I was eighteen I came down with mono and had to drop out of my first year of university. It was a low point in my life. Walking outside with my camera made me feel better—it healed both my mind and body. Some forty years later, I’m still taking walks with my camera and still feeling the positive vibes.
Hungarian photographer Marton Perlaki, whose photos often have a surreal and quirky aspect that I admire, told British Journal of Photography interviewer Tom Seymour, “I think my pictures have a certain childish, absurd humour which plays an important role in my work. I think about photography as a sort of therapy for the mind. I am trying to understand something about myself through the process and the final work.”
Psychotherapist Joshua Miles observed, in a Counselling Directory article, “There is a meaningful and real connection between the creative and therapeutic processes.” —
Photo tip: Look for words on signs that can be used to used to make interesting juxtapositions–for example, a stop sign or a yield sign.
The term “storm chips” was coined in 2014 by CBC radio host Stephanie Domet. It refers to people stocking up on potato chips and other snacks in advance of a snow storm.
Rebecca Rupp writes, “What most of us do buy in the face of impending blizzard is usually not what we should buy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an extensive list of supplies to have on hand for winter weather, which includes canned goods, crackers, dried fruit, infant food and formula (should there be a baby in the house), and bottled water. Other what-to-buy-for-a-blizzard lists recommend such sturdy, non-perishable items as peanut butter, canned soup and chili, beans, trail mix, canned tuna, and protein bars. In the event of awful weather, the consensus is, it’s a good idea to have on hand a supply of low-maintenance stuff that you don’t have to cook.”
We get our share of winter storms here in the Maritimes and storm chips have become a phenomenon. New Brunswick company Covered Bridge has even come out with a flavour called Storm Chips. So I wasn’t surprised to see a sign advertising a Storm Combo. There is a big winter storm coming tonight–time to get a good “storm book” and some “storm coffee.”
Photo tip: Wet pavement at night is great for colourful reflections. You can also get things like traffic lights or signs reflected in puddles.
Sometimes you are in a hurry and don’t have much time to take a photo, but the light is right and there are a lot of interesting elements before you. You snap maybe one or two images, then the moment is gone. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. But it is bound to be an interesting photo if the light is good and the scene has a lot to offer.
Photo tip: Good light is often the key to good photos. Make note of the time of day when you see nice light. It will vary from season to season.