It often happens that you show a friend a shot, and he asks: “What did you shoot here?” And at once it somehow becomes sad: either a comrade inattentive – did not understand your creative plan; or you didn’t show clearly enough in the photo what interests you so much when shooting. How to make a photo clearer for the viewer? How to convey her mood, emotions? We will talk about this in the article.
So, briefly formulate the first tip:
1. Before shooting, always clearly ask yourself what exactly you are shooting.
The picture will be understandable to the viewer when it has a specific object, the “hero” of the photo.
How to find a suitable subject for shooting? Sometimes the subject is obvious, as is the case with a portrait or a specific subject (for example, a book). But sometimes the “main character” is not easy to find. For example, when shooting a landscape. Often, beginner photographers get landscape shots “empty.” Directing the lens into space, the photographer forgets that some interesting object, the “hero” of the frame, must be present in his picture. As a result, nothing attracts the attention of the viewer. Choose an object that makes your audience take a closer look at the picture. It can be a freestanding tree, a beautiful house, a bush with flowers, a path … Anything that can cause interest.
By the way, something “incorporeal” may become the subject of the shooting. For example, natural phenomena: sunset, snowfall, thunderstorm.
Of course, there may be several main objects in the frame. To prevent confusion in the photo, they must be connected by a plot.
2. Ask yourself what is happening in the photo
A shot can be boring if nothing happens in the frame. A simple example: in one picture there is a person with arms outstretched at the seams, no emotions on his face. On the other – the same person smiles and waves his hands. Which frame will be more interesting? The one where the person somehow manifests himself, right?
A great storyline for a photo can be not only an action, but also a state. Flowers can bloom, the sun can set, and water can flow. Observe the subject. Time goes very quickly, and any state of objects is fleeting. Try to show it in the photo.
The complete absence of a plot, idea, or at least some stylistic decision is a common mistake of many staged portraits. To make the frame more interesting, try to evoke emotions in the model. At a minimum – tell her what you want to get in the photo: sadness, joy, passion. Or you can make good contact with her, then the emotions from your communication will appear themselves.
The plot for the photo may be some kind of original idea of the photographer himself (for example, the search for an unusual point of view on a particular subject). The plot may consist in the transfer of a certain aesthetics or style in the picture. You can also use an unusual combination of objects in the frame as a plot: large / small, soft / hard, and the like. It all depends on your imagination!
Remember that the task of the photographer is not only to search for the plot, but also expressive transmission of it in the frame.
It would seem that there is nothing simpler: we look for an interesting object and plot, and then shoot. However, even here difficulties may lie in wait for us. For example, photographing a person, we will inevitably include other elements in the frame. And our object can drown in unnecessary details. So the following tip is also very simple:
3. Remove everything superfluous from the frame!
If something is not involved in the plot, feel free to remove this element from the frame! However, it is important to remember that the background, the empty space around the object, can become part of the plot. And some additional details (for example, branches framing the landscape) can complement the composition. You need to understand that they also participate in the plot, and they should be left behind.
The more composition elements involved in your frame, the easier it is for the viewer (and yourself) to get lost in them.
Do not forget that you can independently choose the most profitable point for shooting. Use this when looking for the best angle!
Due to the abundance of excess objects in the frame, the plot of the picture is completely incomprehensible. Probably, the author wanted to show beautiful mountains in the photograph … We can only guess about this. It seems that the picture shows us some buildings, rather than the beauty of the mountains.
4. Highlight the main thing in the picture
Sometimes the main object in the photo is “lost”, merging with the background. How to be in this case?
Let’s figure out how to select an object in the photo.
Size and shape. Obviously, the subject must be shown large enough in the photo so that the viewer draws attention to it. Also, the object in the picture will stand out if it has some exceptional, eye-catching form.
Colour and brightness. If your subject is highlighted in colour or brightness, it will be difficult not to notice it in the photo. Do not forget that the brightness of the subject depends on the degree of illumination. It is enough to direct more light onto the object than the background, and it will become brighter.
Sharpness. The subject can be highlighted by blurring the background. They like to use this technique in portraiture. However, in other areas of photography, he is also quite appropriate. How to blur the background in the photo? The blurred background is a consequence of the shallow depth of field. We have a separate lesson on this subject. To achieve a shallow depth of field, it’s worth taking pictures from a more or less close distance, at an open aperture and at maximum zoom.
It is important to keep in mind that these techniques can be applied not only individually, but all together.
5. Background is an important part of the picture
The environment in which we shoot the hero, the background of the picture is an integral part of it. To make the photo expressive and informative, special attention should be paid to working with the background.
The background should fit the plot. Moreover, it can perfectly complement it. At the same time, the background should not draw all attention to itself. Sometimes it’s worth blurring it by shooting on an open aperture. This is usually done when shooting a portrait so as not to distract attention from the hero of the frame. And in the landscape, they try to make the background sharp in order to include the entire plot in the depth of field.
When shooting in an apartment, extra things will constantly fall into the frame. They will distract attention. It’s not very convenient to shoot in an apartment, and there’s not much light there. Try to look for other places for a photo shoot – interesting and with good lighting.
6. Use simple layout rules
Simple frame layout rules were created as a “cheat sheet” for a novice photographer who has not yet developed his own sense and vision of the frame. Using them, you can easily compose the frame so that it looks harmonious.
The rule of thirds allows for great liberties in its use. It’s not worth checking with jewellery accuracy whether the subject crosses the intersections of the lines of the rule of thirds. The main point of this rule is to make a novice photographer remove the subject from the centre of the frame and think about the layout.
The rule of thirds. Contrary to popular belief, having the subject in the centre of the frame is not always a good idea. Try using the rule of thirds. This rule is based on the golden ratio law. Place the subject closer to one of the corners of the frame. Or you can simply place the object (in the case of a portrait – the face (eyes) of the hero) in the upper third of the picture.
Conveniently, the rule of thirds grid can be displayed on the camera screen or in the viewfinder.
The rule of thirds allows for great liberties in its use. It’s not worth checking with jewellery accuracy whether the subject crosses the intersections of the lines of the rule of thirds. The main point of this rule is to make a novice photographer remove the subject from the center of the frame and think about the layout.
Do not “fill up” the horizon. A person always focuses on the horizon line, as on a strictly horizontal object. This rule also works for product photography. If everything was tilted to the side in the picture, it will be difficult for the viewer to perceive the photo: it will give the impression that everything is falling somewhere. It’s especially worth watching the horizon when shooting landscapes and architecture. To keep the horizon in your photos horizontal, you just need to remember about it and keep the camera level. Please note that even if there is no horizon line in the image (for example, we are photographing in the city), the viewer’s eye will look for obviously horizontal and vertical objects (houses, lampposts, apartment walls) in order to orient in the photo.
To check if you’re shooting, the horizon is not lit up, modern cameras have a digital level that you can always display on the screen. And in older models of Nikon DSLRs (for example, Nikon D7200, Nikon D750, Nikon D810) – even the viewfinder.
Do not “sculpt” the subject to the borders of the frame. Try not to place the object close to the borders of the frame. Otherwise, you will not be able to create a harmonious composition. In addition, the borders of the frame may suffer during rotation (leveling the horizon) during frame processing, as well as when the printed photo is framed. Therefore, everything that is in the frame close to the borders of the frame can be cropped.
As a conclusion, I would like to wish readers inspiration and a creative, informed approach to the shooting. Remember that interesting and beautiful photographs are taken not by one who knows the technique of shooting well and has an expensive camera, but by one who has an artistic taste and a desire to create, study and develop.