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What's the difference between snapping and composing

What is the difference between a random snap and a careful photographic composition?

The answer may not appear obvious at a glance. Uncovering the joy of carefully crafted photography requires effort. The viewer must engage with the image. Sadly, too often in our hyper-speed online and social media world, images are swiped past in a split second.

The carefully crafted image loses out but so does the viewer, missing the joyful discoveries that await someone who takes the time to really read an image. Today, image consumption is akin to flying over the grand canyon in a jet at the speed of sound. If you really want to enjoy the view you've got to sit on the canyon rim for an hour and watch the sun go down.

I'll try to illustrate why 81 Bo Kaap is not a random snap. The first reason is something the viewer will not know. The photographer, me in this case, pre-visualised the image. I didn't just lift the camera and press the shutter button. Walking toward these ladies I saw the …
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How do you make a good photographic portrait?

How do you make a good photographic portrait? The answer is both simple and complex at the same time. The simple essence will probably surprise you.



If I had to write a book about it then I'd cover all the usual topics. Lighting, composition, choosing the right lens, using depth of field and thinking about the background and how you use colour and tone. All have a role to play.

We could also discuss the softer side. How you build rapport with your subject. And how to collaborate.

The truth is none of the above things really matter when it comes down to the essence of what makes a good portrait. Don't get me wrong. They all contribute as stepping stones. They add finesse and enhance. They improve the aesthetics and make it easier to take a good photograph. Other photographers may admire your technique. But good technique does not make a good portrait. Certainly not in the eyes of of the wider public.

So, what does make a good portrait. Simple. The expression on the face, in the…

Art of the decisive moment

Capturing the decisive moment requires patience and timing. Good timing depends on your ability to anticipate the right moment.


Welcome to my relaunched blog. You'll notice a new design to mark the moment. What do you think?

The plan is to write far more regularly. Short posts. Easy to read. Focused on a single subject.

This time it's about that vital element. The anticipation of the decisive moment.

As a scene unfolds you're thinking about what is going to happen next. Where are people moving to? What are they doing? What's happening in the background? Do you have the right point of view or do you need to move?

To be ready for the moment you need a prepared mind and a prepared camera. I almost never use burst mode. It's too inaccurate. While the shutter is clattering away you're not seeing what is about to happen. You run the risk that the exact split second you should have snapped is between frames. I prefer the approach of taking a single shot, relying on t…

Renée C. Byer on the Art of Photojournalism

All photos copyright of Renee C. Byer and The Sacramento Bee

I wanted to share this interview with you.

Award-winning American documentary photojournalist, Renée C. Byer, is best known for her in-depth work focusing on the disadvantaged and those who otherwise would not be heard. Her ability to produce photographs with profound emotional resonance and sensitivity earned her the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2007 and dozens of other national and international honours, including that of Pulitzer finalist in 2013.
Well worth watching.

Thanks.

Paul www.indigo2photography.com

What makes a great photograph great?

What makes a great photograph great? Now there's a big question. I bet if you asked 20 curators and 20 photographers that question you'd get a different answer from all of them.

I will try to distil the answer. You tell me if it resonates with what you feel and think too.

The usual text book answers to what makes a good photograph revolve around the composition, the lighting, colour, the action in the photograph, the content, story and emotion, but we all know that technically perfect photos, even of great subjects, can be uninspiring and uninteresting.

I think a great photograph goes beyond the individual elements. The sum is greater than the components.

All the elements work together, and as you look, something deeply personal unlocks in your brain. You have this moment when everything connects and makes sense. You go 'aha' I see it. You identify with the subject.

If you don't get that feeling from a photograph then it is just another snapshot.

Creating great im…

Christmas market image explained

From my new  #CreativeInsights video series.


In this video I explain the composition and why I think the image works. View the photo here https://flic.kr/p/22P7Yy6 Happy with sausage A man looks forward to tucking into a giant sausage on baguette at the German Christmas market in Leeds.
Thanks for watching. More to follow in the New Year.
Paul www.indigo2photography.com

The photo and the experience are different

It’s hard to take a photograph that does it justice.

This is one of my favourite views in the world, looking toward Hout Bay from Chapman’s Peak Drive.

You stand there with the wind plucking at your clothes, enveloped by the smell of fynbos mixed with sea air and you feel the heat radiating from the rocks and ground around you.

Your heart beats a little faster as you try to take in the immense grandeur of the Cape Peninsula at the South Western tip of Africa.

How can you put this experience into an image? One way is to add a description, as I have done here. Captions are immensely important. But a photographer has other tools as well. Using the language of light, composition, colour and gesture all help us convey the feeling of what was like to see what we saw and photographed.
It's a real challenge and something to think about.
Thanks for reading.
Paul www.indigo2photography.com