Come With Me On A Journey About Your Photography, Part 4

PROGRAMMING UPDATE: I’m sharing a great strategy for backing up your photo library and LR catalog – another of our free live Webinars (normally just for Kelbyone members, but we’re opening it to all photographers) today at 11:00 AM ET. Taking your questions, too

OK, I may have mentioned in a previous post that this would be a four-part series, but as it turned out, it’s a five-parter, and this is Part 4 (of 5), but this one won’t take you too long, and though you may not realize it yet, this actually helps to move you closer to making the kind of images you want to be making. Also, if you missed, Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3, well…there are the links. Ready to jump into Part 4? Let’s go!

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

(1) We went to Instagram and identified around 20 or so images that are the exact type of images we want to be making.

(2) We played detective and I gave you a list of how to break down those images to their basic elements.

(3) We went through that list one-by-one and gave a 1-5 ranking for which things we left were the most important elements in making each image special. What were the things the photographer did that make that image what it is.

Now, here in Part 4, go back through that list you made last week and look for a common thread that runs through your picks. Look at your #1s and #2s, and see if they share a common thread? Do you see the same type of comments appearing over and over.

Here’s a sample list as an example:

So, above I went through a bunch of shots I liked, and briefly noted the #1, and #2 most important things to me — the things that I think made that photo special. OK, what can we learn about our photography from this list of shots you admire?

I highlighted in red each time I noted the LOCATION was one of the two most important features. That tells me, for the type of images I want to be making, the location of the shot is a very important factor. Are the location landscape locations or travel locations? Are the shots you choose portraits, and you feel it’s the background or environment that made all the difference? Make note of each time you wrote location, and then write down where or what those locations were. Is there a common thread? Are the indoors, outdoors? Maybe sweeping coastal landscapes, or are they portraits in a studio. Write this down on paper, and look for the common thread. I’ll bet there is some common denominator that is typing them together somehow.

OK, let’s keep digging it a little further:

Look at how many times (above in red) I chose that Light, or Lighting, was one of the two top features. If the shots are portraits, is the lighting in those shots dramatic? Bright and high key? Is it one light, two lights, more? Or, if they are landscape shots, is it dramatic light? Beams of light? Dawn light or sunset light? Mid-afternoon light. Try and define exactly which type of light is happening in each, and see if there’s a common thread — some type of lighting that you’re drawn to.

Another feature that pops up on my list quite a bit, is color. I always knew I’m drawn to color, and this list just confirms it. The color in these shots really drew them to me. Now, can I find a common thread between them? Is the color I’m drawn to a warm color? A cool color? Contrasting colors. If I can determine exactly which type of colors, that will help in Part 5.

Look at how many times “people” (or people related things, like clothing or expression) show up in the list above? What does this tell you? It looks like you’re (well I am) drawn to people. Look at the people shots and see if you can see a thread — something that repeats. Is it the clothes? The styling? The location where the shots are taken? You know how that you’re drawn to lighting, so is it the lighting? How about the over color or the color of the clothes they’re wearing. Is it that they’re great subjects? Maybe a fantastic model, or a person with an interesting or fascinating look? Find that common thread that runs between those shots.

Here’s another common theme from my list – simplicity. I’m obviously drawn to shots that have a simple composition or simple lighting, or maybe both. Maybe instead of trying to add things to my photos to make them better, maybe I should try taking things away, and simplifying the scene that’s in front of me?

You know what to do next…

For this to work, you have to write this stuff down. On paper, on your phone, or your iPad — you have to write it for it to stick. If you do, it will start paying off very soon. In fact, I think you’ll find that it already has started to reveal things to you about the type of images you want to be making. More to come in Part 5.

Stay healthy, stay indoors, and keep pushing your learning forward, so that when this awful virus is behind, you’re set up for success.

Wishing you good health. :)


Leave a Reply
Previous Post

Website Critiques: Are you making these mistakes on your site?

Next Post

Locked Down