It’s been a few weeks since our last Brotography lesson. The main reason for this is because I had to take a little time off to turn 30. It wasn’t that I needed time to come to terms with it, but simply the celebrations lasted slightly longer than usual and my wife, siblings (and their significant others) took me on a trip to the incredible little coastal town of Dingle in Ireland.
Why am I telling you this? Well… when I went back to my parent’s house for a day of fun and games, to commemorate me making it through a third decade, my mum decided to dig out a couple of old photo albums. These were actually photos from a Polaroid camera I was given for my tenth birthday (turns out I was the original photographer in the family, though Oliver has certainly upped the ante these past few years).
Looking back through these memories it reminded me what an incredible opportunity we all have to be able to document such moments in time, that will be looked back on for many more decades to come and no doubt long after we are gone.
Whilst the techniques we have covered in previous weeks can help you to better capture these moments, what’s most important is that you become more aware and start to see things worth capturing. Here we take a look at how you can begin to see more opportunities for great photos; how timing can be everything in bringing all the elements together and how you can shoot through the moment to capture it at it’s height.
Now you know some of the basic techniques, it’s about seeing these things all around you in everyday life. So many people live in their smart phones these days it’s impossible for them to notice anything, even when in the company of their closest friends and family. However if you start to pay more attention to your surroundings and the people you’re with (or not with), you will begin to see opportunities for great photos that would otherwise have passed you by.
For example, travelling between places can present lots of opportunities for interesting photos that, until now, you have literally been walking past. The photo below, taken on the way out the door of an apartment in Copenhagen, is a great demonstration of this.
Most people walk down those stairs and out the door, without a second thought. However, if you start to notice the individual elements coming together, you begin to see the opportunity for a photo such as this. The light coming down from above, which lights our subject’s face when she looks up. The leading lines created by the banister, which draw your eyes down and around the stairs towards our subject. And the natural frame and clean background around our subject, created by the floor she is standing on. It’s by seeing the combination of these things that turns something mundane like walking down stairs into an interesting moment worth capturing.
In addition, timing can be everything in bringing it all together. The photo below is all about timing. The Danish launderette with its large symmetrical windows provides a compelling backdrop and the lady on her red bicycle an interesting subject. However, it’s the combination and timing (waiting for the subject to be perfectly framed by the doorway) and taking the photo at the decisive moment that makes this a great photo. It’s important for you to find your scene and then anticipate what’s going to happen to make it a situation worth capturing.
You can achieve photos like this by ‘shooting through the moment’. This means you don’t just take one photo but you see the moment happening and take a series of photos one after the other. You then look back through to see which photo was taken at the height of the moment.
In the series of photos below you can see how the situation develops to capture the best photo. It’s a great scene and you could just take this first photo and be very happy with it.
However, by shooting through the moment it starts to develop more and you can capture it at its height. Here the subject starts to smile a little more.
And finally when you look back through your series of photos you see you’ve captured the peak of the moment, with the subject laughing and other people around him all turning to show their faces as well.
Finally it’s important to also look for things ‘after the moment’. You can plan a great photo but sometimes it’s after you’ve taken this photo, when people relax more or things go slightly pear-shaped, that can lead to a much more interesting image than the one your were initially trying to capture. Such as this…
This is actually the final week of this first set of lessons, which we put together to teach some basic techniques on how you can take better photos. We hope you have enjoyed and found them useful… Brotography will return…