The Art To Making Photos

A spectacular detail, featuring three intricately carved angels, on one of the arches within Salzburg Cathedral in Salzburg, Austria.

Have you ever had trouble making photos? Perhaps you’re tired or uninspired. Maybe the weather is bleak or the light uninteresting. For whatever reason you want to make photos, but you just can’t find an interesting subject or composition.

Wanting It To Happen

The moral of the story is that it takes more than just being there with your camera at the ready. What’s more, wanting a photo isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to look hard to find the subject and work to make a good composition.

Details Speak Of Larger Things

One way to do so is to minimize clutter within the frame. It’s okay to think global, but by concentrating on local elements you can often find a way to explore larger concerns. It’s a little like exploring the forest by photographing a leaf or a stand of trees. Likewise the face of a young child can speak of the wonder of the world and the hope that exists at the beginning of a journey.   

Composition, Contrast and Exposure

Detail is a great way to minimize clutter and concentrate the viewer’s attention on important compositional elements within the frame. Likewise, detailed areas are often more evenly lit than is the case with larger scenes, making it easier to manage contrast and achieve appropriate exposure.

A Detail From Salzburg Cathedral

The above photo was made in the spectacular Salzburg Cathedral in Salzburg, Austria. The light was low, yet wider views of the space were very high in contrast. A tripod would have allowed me to manage the low light levels and reduce the contrast of the scene through HDR (i.e., High Dynamic Range).

As I didn’t have a tripod with me it made sense to concentrate my camera’s attention on a range of beautiful details on the columns and ceiling throughout the Cathedral. This is one such photo. It illustrates three angels, their elevated position above the congregation no doubt re-enforcing their corporeal existance.

Photography is a Physical Endeavor

Next time you’re having trouble making photographs consider the detailed view as a way to explore larger ideas. Look left, right, up and down. And, by all means, turn around. Photography is a physical endeavor and movement is often the best way to fire the brain and to discover new subject matter, interesting perspectives, elements of composition and more inspiring light.

Movement can be the beginning of great photography and often the best thing you can do to turn a lackluster moment into a creative opportunity is to move your subject or yourself.     

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru