As I prepare to teach my online course on Composition through the Equine Photographer’s Network, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on why I believe it is important that photographer’s don’t skip the step of learning and masting basic concepts of composition.
What I see in the work of photographers who are just starting out (and a few who have been around awhile), is a tendency to shoot almost everything close up and vertical. This is a very safe way of shooting and you can create strong, clean images with this method and I also shoot my fair share of close up and vertical images. But as I have endeavored to learn and apply compositional techniques to my work, I have turned my camera horizontal more and more, and found ways to communicate a lot more about what I am shooting, especially the environment in which my subject exists. This is a foundation to storytelling imagery!
I’m a visual learner and communicator, so I am going to use some photos to explain. I will work with several crops of an image I took in Kentucky last fall.
This is not a bad image, but it doesn’t take long for me to “read” the image and see three horses running in the fall. Pretty, but I don’t need to look at it very long.
The next image shows a little more, because it is in a horizontal format, but the crop is too tight to make good use of the elements in this scene to give the viewer more to look at and guide them through the entire photograph.
Here is the image as I shot it. I included the fence as a leading line to the horses, left room for them to run into, shot before the horses got to the tree so as to keep them in a cleaner background, balanced the scene between the horses and the tree, and included a lot of great scenery to give the photograph visual interest and texture.
I want to encourage you to take a look at your images. Are most of them close up and vertical? Then please consider spending the month of March learning composition with me! I promise not to pile a bunch of rules on you that will make you feel confined in your photography. Rather, I want to teach you some basic concepts that will help you make more compelling, more interesting photographs. Once you have learned these concepts, they will become an intuitive part of your shooting and you will be able to forget them.
Don’t forget, this course is open to ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS, not just equine photographers or members of the Equine Photographer’s Network. I am not limited the subject matter for this course, you can shoot any subject matter for the assignments.
There will be two simple reading and shooting assignments each week, and you will have the opportunity to get gentle feedback on your images to make sure you are understanding the concepts being taught.