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6 Ways to Add Drama and Mystery to Your Images

Recently at a get together with 6 photographer friends we started chatting about the idea of adding Drama and Mystery to images.

Don’t ask me how we got to the topic but the conversation was so good that I decided to ask each photographer for their favourite technique for creating Dramatic and Mysterious Shots.

Here are their paraphrased responses:

1. Motion Blur

opposite sides

While keeping your shots tack sharp is something that many of us aim for – slowing down your shutter speed a little and allowing moving objects in your frame to blur a little (or a lot) can certainly add a new dimension to your images.

Further Reading on Motion Blur: 13 places to take beautiful motion blur shots and How to Capture Motion Blur.

2. Silhouette

The Dance of Joy

There’s not many things more mysterious than a Silhouette. The simple outline of a person or element can convey so much – yet will also leave those viewing the image wondering about and imagining the missing details.

Further Reading on Silhouettes: How to Photograph Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps

3. Shooting Perspective

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One way to add a lot of punch to your images is to alter the perspective that you shoot from. While everyone else is shooting from the same angle – get down on the ground and shoot up or find a way to shoot down on your image. Mix it up and find the perspective that ‘makes’ the shot.

Further Reading on Shooting Perspective: Get a New Perspective by Getting High, 7 Tips for Great Low Angle Shots and 20 Examples of Low Angle Photography.

4. Dramatic Light

Ya-TAAHHHH!!!

Light is to photographers what paint is to painters. Learn to use it right and you can completely change the message conveyed in your image. Changing the angle light hits your subject (back lit, side lit etc), adding to or taking away intensity of light, reflecting it or even changing its colour all can add a great deal of drama to your shots.

Further Reading on Light: 9 Lighting Types to Harness and Improve Your Photography

5. Bold Colors

The Bamboo Forest and some great Twitter Lists to follow

Often overlooked by beginners – the colours featured in your images will often set the emotional scene for those viewing your images. The photographer I asked was a big user of bold colour in her photography but paying attention to colours of all intensities are well worth investigating.

Further Reading on Color: Captivating Color: a Guide to Dramatic Color Photography

6. Selective Focus

Buzz and the Snail

How much of your image can play a big part in setting the drama and mystery within it. Using selective focus (or having a narrow depth of field where only a small part (if any) of the image in focus while the rest is thrown out of focus) can leave much of what is in your frame mysteriously hidden (yet partially revealed) – in a similar way to a Silhouette.

Further Reading: How to Get Shallow Depth of Field in Your Photography and 13 Examples of Great Photos When Being out of Focus Makes the Shot

Of course this is not an exhaustive list and none of the six photographers would use their chosen technique or approach in every single image. They all expressed that it completely depended on the situation they were shooting in.

However – what would YOU add? What techniques and approaches have you found add to the drama, mystery and interest in your images?

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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