A Guest Post by Piper Mackay from www.pipermackayphotography.com.
The creativity in your photographs is what will make your imagery stand out. Most of us, if we commit the time, can technically master the craft of photography. Capturing a compelling image can be much more difficult especially when you are excited, experiencing something for the first time, and are visually overloaded.
You begin pointing and shooting at everything you see. You arrive home, look at your photographs, and see that you have captured extraordinary subjects or a beautiful location, but the images are somewhat mediocre. Taking an extraordinary photograph of and extraordinary subject is what you want to strive for.
I want to share with you a few tips that can quickly help elevate the creativity in your photography and help you to focus on the artistic side of photography; without the creative process, you are really only turning dials and pushing buttons.
The eyes are the windows to the soul. If you are going to place your subject in the center, get close, fill the frame and deeply connect with your subject.
A more interesting portrait composition is to place your subject off center, looking into the frame at a slight angle, with a blurred out or clean background.
Now up your game and add layers of impact by adding a simple, but beautiful background.
Take it one step further by adding a second person to draw the viewer more deeply into the frame.
Drawing the Eye
One of the basic rules of composition is leading lines, but if there is more than one, it can be more effective in keeping the viewer in the photograph longer. In this image there is a leading line from the bottom right to the top left and another one that leads the viewer back across the photograph.
Using layers of impact makes for a very powerful image. When photographing people I love to use a wide-angle lens, getting up close to my main subject with something interesting in the background to draw the view into the photograph. Here my main subjects are interesting, positioned in front of a beautiful background along the Omo River that curves and leads to the women in the distance, creating layers of impact and depth in the image.
I love using selective focus to draw the viewer’s eye exactly were I want it. This usually works best with repeating patterns and groups of items such as: spices or vegetables, crafts at a local market, flowers in a field or a herd of animals, as a few examples.
Change your Perspective
Being at eye level with your subject makes for a more dynamic image. So, if your subject is down on the ground, hit the dirt and get dirty. Picture in your mind how this photograph would look if you stood and shot down on these subjects. This angle makes the viewer feel as though they are there.
Most people would have just taken this photograph from the shore with a zoom lens but I wanted something more powerful. I planned to be in this area during the dry season, suffering in 110+ heat when the river would be at its lowest. I got into the river with my wide-angle lens and photographed this at eye level with the canoe. There were a lot of challenges, watching out for crocs was one of them, and although I did not get the photograph I had envisioned, I knew I and a unique perspective.
Shoot from a different angle. Getting lower than your subject adds drama and power. The opposite can work as well—get above your subject and shoot down on them.
Most importantly, it does not have to be new; it has to be you. We all see things differently and express them differently. This is the reason many of us picked up the camera, to seek out places for ourselves that we have already viewed through someone else’s eyes. We want to experience it for ourselves, capturing our own vision. The way you express your unique view through the lens is what makes it new and interesting.
Piper Mackay is a professional travel and wildlife photographer whose work is heavily based in Eastern Africa. She is currently leading both wildlife and cultural safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Her work is represented by Getty images and she is and instructor for the Travel and Editorial track at Calumet. View her work at www.pipermackayphotography.com.