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Recently I took a stroll through my photo archives as a way of bench-marking my progress as a photographer and something dawned on me – I’ve begun to overcome a very troublesome disorder for photographers known as Single Subject Blindness.
Come home from photographing something spectacular only to have ever photograph you upload be of that one spectacular subject? I mean there’s nothing wrong with this problem – after all you are still getting a photograph of one spectacular subject, but could you have gotten more? Done something else? Seen the scene differently?
So when you think back to some of your recent photo adventures – Have you ever photographed a dramatic sunset and walked away with photographs of only the sunset? Have you ever hiked deep into a forest to photograph a waterfall to walk away with only photographs of the waterfall itself? This is what I’m calling single subject blindness and it is something I’d like to mention today and talk about how I avoid it.
I do want to mention that there’s nothing wrong with capturing the main characters of your scene, the sunset, the waterfall, the expansive mountain range etc, but I do think that if that’s all you’re photographing when you go out on a shoot you’re missing a big part of the scene around you – the supporting cast!
I’ve done this myself for many years – I’ll get caught up in a scene and return to my computer to see what I’ve captured only to find every photo looks the same. Lately I’ve begun to catch myself doing it in the field and I’ve found a couple of ways to break the habit.
It’s not easy though – The thing is just like in the movies, a great book, or a dramatic play the main characters draw your attention, and keep it. The supporting cast is there to move the story along, but not necessarily be the story – however, they can make for very compelling and interesting subjects when isolated and taken separately. So while we can still photograph our main subjects I think it’s also important to find ways to steer our focus from the obvious subjects to those which are more subtle.
There’s no denying that it’s hard to ignore the main character of your photo shoot – after all many times it’s the reason where there in the first place. If you want to have a chance to photograph the supporting cast of your scene you have to find the strength to divert your focus, even if only for a moment, from that main event. Here are four quick tips that I use to get myself noticing the smaller details of a scene – if you can think of more tricks leave them in the comments below!
I’d love to hear your own take on this and what you’ve done to avoid the problem in the comments below!