Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Trends and compositions

While in one of my favourite bookshops this afternoon I came across An Inner Silence: The Portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson also available on Amazon (should charge them for advertising).

Cartier-Bresson is legendary for his composition. He never cropped, to my knowledge, always preferring to use full frame for his compositions. Looking through his wonderful portraits I was struck by how much space his subjects occupied in the frame. Fashions and trends have changed in portrait photography.

It seems to me that photographers these days are afraid of 'empty' space. The subject is crambed into the frame, every pixel filled. Elbows and the top of the head are cropped out, fingers and feet rest on the edges. In contrast Cartier-Bresson lets his subjects breathe. He often puts them in the bottom right of the frame with loads of space above them filled with a staircase, a wall, a window frame, the corner of a building and so on. His images are beautifully balanced and nothing in the background disturbs.

So why do we nowadays crowd our subjects in the frame. I suppose it's to create immediate, in you face impact, a symptom of our times. We demand rather than request the attention of the viewer.

However, I also believe that it takes tremendous skill to handle 'empty' space well in the frame, so that it is not seen as unnecessary or a waist, but rather as an enhancement to the mood of the image. The greater distance to the subject invites the viewer to enjoy the image at leisure and contemplate it.

Perhaps we should think again about this approach to photography. We could probably all benefit from a bit more space.

I'd be delighted to hear your opinion, so feel free to email me.

Cheers,

Paul

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Advice on the basics for photographers #1

Today I saw a picture of a number of enthusiastic amateur photographers all holding their cameras taking a photograph.

Although many of them have been taking photographs for several years I was surprised to see about half of them were holding their cameras incorrectly. I was baffled, finding it quite unbelievable that so many photographers don't know simple basics.

So I've decided to do a few articles covering some of the basics.

Number 1

Support your camera with your left hand, palm upwards, under the body of the camera or lens. The right hand grips the body of the camera with your finger ready to release the shutter.

Whether you're shooting portrait or landscape formats always support the camera body with your left hand underneath it.

The biggest enemy of sharpness is camera shake, so supporting your camera properly will help you get sharper images.

Hope this helps.

Paul

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I like what I see

I got a comment today on one of my images along the lines of "I like what I see but I don't know anything about the technical stuff." How refreshing. All I've ever wanted to do was take pictures which people like.

I don't want to be admired for my technical expertise. To me that's all background stuff. You can take any work, apologies for the comparison here, but say you take a poem and tear it apart, analyse every word, every verse - surely that's not the way to appreciate it. I find you can't really be open to enjoying something if you're deconstructing it and analysing everything at the same time.

Like a poem an image needs to be experienced and enjoyed as a whole. Afterwards you can consider the technique but it is surely not the most important thing.

Yep, all I want is for people to enjoy what I do and get something out of it for themselves. I suppose a good image is like a bit of magic. You don't have to know exactly how it was done to appreciate it and get pleasure from the experience of looking at it.

All the best,

Paul

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Photographs that moved the world

Following on from a debate with a friend we realised that though so much effort is put into creating the perfect landscape, still life or portrait, the photographs that have really moved the world are almost all photojournalistic images.

Even the formidable and masterful beauty of Ansel Adams' landscapes or Mappelthorpes' flowers are far less well known than the Eddie Adams photograph of the execution of a Viet Cong guerilla in 1968 or Don McCullin's haunting image of famine in Biafra.

In a competition between the pure aesthetics of an image and the capture of a truly meaningful and symbolic moment in history it is always the latter that wins. Having said that there are usually many images taken of an event but only a few grab the world's consciousness, and in this purely visual elements such as composition do play a vital role. An example here is Richard Drew's "Falling Man" image taken on September 11, 2001. Richard and other photograhers took several images of the people falling from the Twin Towers but this particular image captured something more profound and ultimately that comes down to its visual elements and aesthetics.

If you want to take images that really mean something, then as a photographer you need to position them within a meaningful context. If your image is just a picture of a pretty face, it will hold the viewers attention for a few seconds, but then tell the viewer that the face belongs to a serial killer or the richest heiress in the world and you're into a whole new ball game. Naturally your portrait need not be so dramatic, I'm just trying to show the importance of having a reason for taking an image and communicating that reason to your audience - whether you do that visually or with the help of a caption.

I keep coming back to this element of the photographer's intention, what is in his/her mind when they take the image. Why does some landscape photography have tremendous power although it does not capture a historically important moment? Going back to Ansel Adams, I am convinced that his landscapes are powerful because of his profound love of nature and his wish to celebrate its beauty, as much as they are the result of his technical skill.

We should all strive to take pictures with soul that reflect our view of the world and that are born from a passion to communicate what we feel.

Visual power and strength comes from underlying meaning, the photographers consciousness and intention.

As always your comments are very welcome.

All the best,
Paul

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

All the different types of photography

Welcome to my blog. While you're here why not browse through my extensive library of articles covering everything from tips on how to do things photographic to help with the mental approach you need to become a successful photographer. You'll also find articles with some of my unconventional views. Yes, I've rattled a view cages in my time. Hope you have as much fun reading them as I did writing them.

You can view my more serious work on www.indigo2photography.co.uk

All the different types of photography

With the help of acquaintances on a photographic site I've tried to compile a list of all the different types of photography out there. I'm sure there are many still missing but the list is pretty impressive so far. We have identified around 80 descriptions.

For fun I've highlighted in bold the different types I've done so far...

3D photography
Action photography
Advertising photography
Aerial photography
Amateur photography
Animal photography
Architecture photography
Art photography
Astro photography
Aura photography
Black & White photography
Camera Phone photography
Candid photography
Cityscape photography
Close-up photography
Colour photography
Commercial photography
Concert photography
Corporate photography
Decisive moment photography
Digital photography
Documentary photography
Editorial photography
Environmental photography
Erotic photography
Family photography
Fashion photography
Fine art photography
Food photography
Forensic photography
Glamour photography
High Speed photography
Historical photography
Industrial photography
Infrared photography
Kirlian photography (see here)
Landscape photography
Location photography
Lomography
Low-light photography
Macro photography
Medical photography
Micro photography
Nature photography
Night photography
Outdoor photography
Panoramic photography
Passport photography
People photography
Pet photography
Photogrammetry
Photojournalism
Photomicrography
Pinhole photography
Portrait photography
PR photography
Product photography
Radiography
Scenery photography
School photography
Scientific photography
Situation photography
Sport photography
Stereo photography
Still life photography
Stock photography
Street photography
Studio photography
Time-lapse photography
Tomography
Transport photography
Travel photography
Underwater photography
Urban photography
Virtual photography
Wedding photography

If you know of any others please email them to me.

Always a pleasure to hear from you...

Cheers,

Paul

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The passion
























South African singer Thandi Klaasen embodies the passion of an artist. I took this quite a while back but it remains one of my favourite images because I think I captured that passion here.

It's the same passion that drives me forward in my photography.

"Klaasen had mixed fortunes when she was a teenager in Sophiatown. Her life changed when her friend betrayed her by getting tsotsis to pour thinners mixed with petrol on her face. This damaged her face permanently and she spent almost a year in hospital."

Catch you soon.

Paul

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Capturing the moment
























This couple came for a formal portrait, all dressed up. She was the real Hyacinth Bucket (if you happen to know the English TV series). The whole experience was quite surreal.

Her very expensive dress did not fit perfectly so we ended up using washing pegs on the back to tighten it up a bit - an old fashion photography trick.

Ever at the ready, working toward that special moment I had my finger on the shutter release when the magic happened. Often the best images come from those unguarded, unexpected, fleeting moments.

Cheers,

Paul