Light & Shape & Attention to Detail
Some time ago, while preparing a tour, I spent a couple of hours photographing at a place, trying to not cover much space but, instead, to cover more photographic opportunities. During that same period dozens of photographers moved through, snapped away and moved on. We’re looking at different perspectives, I believe.
There are two mottoes that guide me in photography: Less Gear, More Fun, and “Walk Less, SEE More”. This explains a lot why I prefer to explore areas close to home, instead of making long voyages to find my photographic subjects. While I do understand people love to travel, I’ve had my share of moving about, both for pleasure and professionally, and I very much like/prefer to do a 10 minutes drive by car and then explore a smaller waterfall area close to home than to travel 200 kilometers to get some photos of a big waterfall I can only see, probably, once or twice during the year.
I do believe attention to detail renews our discovering possibilities within a close area. I remember reading, years ago, about the excitement photographer Jim Brandenburg had from working close to home for some of his projects. The joy of starting photography outside his own doorstep was important for him. I’ve also found that same feeling on other photographers, and the suggestion of working close to home being mentioned in multiple conferences and workshops. That’s one of the reasons why the project Meet Your Neighbours, with which I’ve some involvement, sounds like an exciting idea to me.
Back to the start of this story, I do know the photographers that moved by while I was photographing at the place I had chosen, where looking from a different perspective, as for most of them, I believe, it was a completely new experience. So, they were peeling the top layers of their own onion, using a concept I like very much to apply to photography. But me, I was already working in the inner layers, so I was playing with light, shape and attention to detail. One could say they’re photographing the forest while I was photographing the trees.
I was, in fact, preparing everything for a Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Tour, one more I organized following the worldwide event. I wanted, at the time, to create a series of photographs to show participants at the start of the event, challenging them to find the places where the photographs were taken, while we walked through the adventure I had imagined for the day.
I created to sets of images, Palace Patterns and Palace Scapes (see below) and, while walking around the Palace — yes, it’s a well known palace in Sintra, Portugal — I asked them to find the spots from the photos and create their own interpretations of my images. I knew there were many other possibilities waiting for the visions of different photographers!
I felt asking participants to take a different approach on that photo tour was a good exercise to make them see “deeper than the skin”. For me it was important to use the exercise to pass to them my idea of a triple notion that photographers need to explore constantly with their photographs: to work with light and shape, and pay attention to detail. This can only be achieved through a continuous return to the same places, under different light conditions and at different hours of the day.
If it is a boring idea for you, then maybe you should not take photography, but look at something else. Because it is through light, shape and detail that you find the inner circles of your own photography. Not following some canned suggestions to achieve results, but understanding how the light plays remake each moment. And then adapt to it!
Does this means you’ll get works of art each and every time? No, that’s not the aim of this exercise. But through rediscovering the beauty in those places you think you’ve already photographed, you’ll teach yourself a valuable lesson in terms of being contemplative on your photography, the right path to create final images that not only appeal to you, but reveal to others what’s inside your mind and soul when you clicked. Because, after all, we do photography first for ourselves, to free our mind and spirit, and only then to others. And that’s something that starts right outside our door. Or even inside your house, if you really want to make the “Walk Less, SEE More” motto part of your photographic path.
In fact, I am preparing one article about that other aspect of photography, not to be published here, but at Manfrotto School of Photography, a place we’re I’ve published some of my visions, along with more technical articles, throughout the years. I hope to have a note here then, so you can go and read it. For now go and explore your surroundings following the suggestions made here.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving me a tip.