When I first began in photography, I found myself attracted to specific images, but could not quite point out why. Was it the colors? The location? The florals? The emotion? A combination? As I became more of a student of photography, I quickly learned it was the composition that caused my gaze to hold. Strong composition may seem an obvious thing, but having the knowledge to know how certain principles of design affect your images, and the ability to bring them to fruition, are extremely valuable lessons! Become a student of composition!
Personal projects. Some call them “styled shoots.” Some people hate them, some people love them. Honestly, I am a lover. They allow me to create relationships with people, amazing people, whom I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to work with—or grab drinks with, post-shoot. My best advice for personal projects/styled shoots is this: Select a mood, emotion or idea, and compare every creative decision you make during the shoot to this theme. This particular shoot was inspired by the waves of Lake Michigan rolling onto the shores of Wisconsin. Notice how the calligraphy and the arches of the florals evoke the sense of a wave. The composition is centered to give stability to an otherwise fluid set of images, giving the viewer something to rest their eyes on.
Posing (or if you’re really cool, “directing”) may be one of the hardest parts of our jobs. I thoroughly enjoy how much emphasis our industry is placing on movement (implied and actual) and I am convinced that the more intentional concentration there is on this concept, the more it will aid photographers’ abilities to effectively direct clients. During this shoot in California, I noticed the wind picking up on the ridge. I really wanted to push the feeling of movement, so I asked the couple to walk down the hill a few feet, kiss, and then walk back up holding hands. That’s all I “directed.” These simple suggestions resulted in a honest capture of the couple and their environment.