Monday, August 25, 2008

Better Photo Tips - Photographic Standard

Photo by Pixellens
Award winning writer / photographer Tedric Garrison has 30 years experience in photography would like to share his view on better photo tips

It has been that said the most difficult thing for man to do is to judge his or her creative work, objectively. Be honest, can you tell when your work seems to be missing something? More importantly do you know what it is that’s missing? You can only improve your photos if you set a high photo standard to compare yourself against.

When Time-Life selected 250 photos for the Great Photographers volume of their Time-Life photography series; they choose sixty eight photographers out of thousands. Those editors defined “Great” photographers based on three main factors.

The first factor was intent. What did the photographer have in mind when he took the photo, and did he achieve it? For example, did the photographer successfully make the viewer feel empathy when taking pictures of survivors of a major natural disaster?

The second factor was technical skill. Did the photographer show a thorough understanding of composition, light, exposure, and design?

The final factor was consistency. Did the photographer have just one or two great shots, or did they produce success time and time again? One great photo . . . or even several . . . does not a great photographer make.

Intent, skill, and consistency are the same three factors that will determine your own greatness. Study the masters like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogene Cunningham, and Diana Arbus and you will see these three factors again and again. But the question remains, how do you get from where you are now to that level?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “being your own worse critic?” By the very nature of the words being used; most people tend to think of that as a negative phrase, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. To learn and grow in photography, you have to be able to be strong enough to admit what does and does not work in your photos.

To that end here is a strength and weakness checklist for you to use when reviewing your own photographs. It’s not complicated, just look at your photo and mark whether it is strong or weak. There is no middle gray, your image either succeeds or it does not. Once you know your weaknesses you can work on improving in those areas.

1. Intent – Could any viewer look at this photo and KNOW what you had in mind?

2. Emotional Impact - Can this photo be described with words of emotion like; peace, calm, anger, rage, joy, or sadness? Does your photo make an emotional statement?

3. Center of Interest – When composing your images do you successful direct your viewers attention to a specific point? Would the viewer know where your center of interest is?

4. Illusion of depth – Have you used framing, balance, and contrast and other art concepts to make your image jump off the page, or does it just sit there?

5. Subject / Background contrast – Shooting a portrait of someone with black hair against a black background is NOT a good idea. Does your subject stand out?

6. Personal Style – Ansel Adams was known for extreme illusion of depth and all planes in very sharp focus. Jim Zuckerman is known for vibrant colors and simplified subjects within their natural setting. Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.” How will others describe your unique approach?

7. Selective Focus – Do you choose where the viewer will look? If the background is just as sharp as the foreground things can become very visually confusing.

8. Composition – Do you consistently use the rule of thirds, formal or informal balance, and leading lines? Take control of where the viewer’s eyes are most likely to fall in your image.

9. Exposure – Do you always shoot at whatever the camera says, or do you take control of the light? Can you see details in your shadows? Have you ever used a reflector or bounced a flash as opposed to straight on?

10. Story Telling – Is there a feeling of movement within your image, or does it just sit there? Does it leave anything to the imagination, or is it just a statement of what is? If your image doesn’t tell a story, there is no reason to give it a second glance. Great photos make you want to look, again and again.

Use this checklist A) to see where you are at the moment and B) to see where your work is going in the future. Having a photographic standard is like having a road map. It is possible to get from here to there without one . . . but it’s a whole lot easier with one. Knowing what areas you need to improve in, is the first step in becoming a better photographer.

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Award winning writer / photographer Tedric Garrison has 30 years experience in photography. As a Graphic Art Major, he has a unique perspective on the Elements of Design and how they relate to photography. His photo eBook; Finding Your Creative Edge in Photography, proves creativity CAN be taught. Tedric shares his wealth of knowledge with the world, at: Better Photo

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Better Photo Tips - Making vs. Taking

Photo by Pixellens

By: Tedric Garrison

In Oct. 1978, the cover of National Geographic showed a self portrait of a gorilla using a camera. I’m serious, you can look it up if you would like. The cover shot was a self portrait, taken by a gorilla, and by the standards of the day it was actually pretty good!

Each year 100 million Americans also take some pretty good photos. OK, admittedly not all of them are that good . . . but with auto focus and extremely high mega pixels it is fairly safe to say that more people are taking better pictures than ever before. So the obvious question is where does that leave us “serious” photographers?

For those of us who know that “pretty good” is not good enough; we must push ourselves further; we must create with more artistic flair and emotional impact. The desire to move beyond the basics is what separates us from . . . the gorillas of the world. Technologically advanced cameras are now so readily available than anyone can pick one up at their local Wal-Mart just as easily as getting groceries.

Having a great camera,
does not make a great photographer. Learning how to create a great photo is not as simple as one might think. There may be thousands; if not hundreds of thousands, of books and magazines that will teach you the craft of photography. But learning just the craft is like running a race with only one shoe. Photography is both an art and a craft.

The craft is fairly well
known; shutter speeds, f-stops, filters and the like, are an extremely important key to any photographer’s success. Of course; the craft of photography is only half the story, it’s the easy half that even a big ape could learn (yet not everyone does).

The other half, the one that even those who are looking do not always find, is the art of photography. There is a common misunderstanding that leads people to believe that “art is that which is pleasing to the eye.” While this may be true in part, it is also incomplete. An art critic of the New York Times once said, “The function of art is to clarify, intensify, or otherwise enlarge our experience of life.”

Visit any National Park, go to a scenic lookout point
and just sit back and observe. Many people will drive up, jump out, shoot their picture, and zoom off again. This person is taking a picture. Simply put; he will take what is before him and discount all the creative possibilities, because he has what he wants.

On the other hand, wait a little longer and you will see someone who leaves his car slowly. He cautiously approaches the scene with silent reverence. His eyes will explore like a small child in a toy store. He may stoop down low, or strain his neck to see further than his body normally allows. This person is making a photograph. His mind is open to the creative possibilities.

photo by pixellens
If you want to make better photos, as opposed to just taking more pictures there are some basic steps you want to remember.

1. Photograph what you like best. Photography is like a love affair, it is not to be taken lightly. You do not share your heart with every person you meet; likewise do not waist your passion on areas of little interest. I, for one would never be good at aerial photography; mostly because of a fear of heights.

2. Prepare yourself. Learn all that you can. Books and magazines are only part of the resources you have available. Internet web sites, pod casts, art galleries, photography shows all enable you to expand your own vision. It is very hard for someone to think outside the box who has never even tried to open the lid. Give your mind something to be creative with.

3. Become one with your subject. When the opportunity arrives; let your eyes dance across the subject, take in the highlights and shadows. The art of seeing photographically means to go beyond the surface. Take a moment; look at it from all possible angles. Whether your subject is living or not, treat it like your best friend. This is where passion comes from.

4. Think your shots through. What emotions are you feeling when you look through your viewfinder or onto that digital screen? If you can put your feelings into words, the next step is to put those words onto film (or digital media). Have an objective in mind when you go to shoot your photos and you will make fantastic creative images, not just take average snapshots.

5. Multiply the possibilities. The right subject at the right time is what great photography is all about. Shoot your subject several times from several different angles. If this is a once in a lifetime opportunity; don’t leave anything to chance, take multiple exposures as well. Remember, your camera always wants to average the light. If you want better than average results push your equipment as well as your mind.

6. Take notes. A pencil is the cheapest piece of photographic equipment you can carry. If an image is a success or a failure it means nothing, unless you can do it again. Don’t change too many things at one time, least you end up still having no idea what made the image work. Document your efforts and don’t be afraid to learn from your failures as well as your success.

Making a photo is like drawing water from a well. If the well is dry, it doesn’t matter how many times the bucket goes up or down. Your job is to keep those creative juices flowing. As you fill the well, with knowledge and experience, more inspiration will come to the surface. What gives you style or makes your work unique, is what you bring to the surface. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

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Award winning writer / photographer Tedric Garrison has 30 years experience in photography. As a Graphic Art Major, he has a unique perspective on the Elements of Design and how they relate to photography. His photo eBook; Finding Your Creative Edge in Photography, proves creativity CAN be taught. Tedric shares his wealth of knowledge with the world, at: Better Photo

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Female Body In Photography

Photo by AllSportsBlog
By Robert Grazian

No one can ignore a beautifully taken female photography; at least once he will pay attention to it. Yes this attention makes the female photography more popular.

Mostly fashion designers and advertisers use the female body in photography. It is obvious that in the present day of global marketing and consumerism, men need to be attracted towards the brand to make good selling of the items. To attract men best simple method is feminine advertisements. This is not simply a sexual attraction, but the in born tendency and temptation of man to appreciate the beauty. The most beautiful in the nature is the cute soft female body. Their movements, their facial feelings and the casual glance, all these are highly attractive. This feature is very important in marketing many items; they use these photographs in getting required attention for their item in the market.

Another reason for female body in photography is the revenue one gets from the photographs. Whether no dress or with dress, female photographs are always a highly priced commodity in photography markets. Fashion design and their displays will be attractive when only females are participating; these photographs will be the main source for the marketing new fashion designs.

It is not a present trend, think about the period when Mona Lisa and Whislers Mother were created. Today with the advent of most modern technology and the sophisticated still camera one can get the visual photograph giving the real feeling. One who takes female body in photography should follow the following tips.

• It is important to select right model for the photograph. See that the model has the attractive power, attractive movements and above all she is beautiful enough. Also one need to select the model in accordance with the circumstance, just tells that if you want a photograph with minimum clothes, you should found such a female beautiful enough and ready to cooperate.

• The theme of the photograph. Make proper decision on the theme according to the utility of the photograph. This does not require much detail, right!

• Background of the photographs. It is very important that your set for photograph matches with the theme of your photograph. If proper attention is not given for the backdrop, the photograph will fail to make a reverberation.

The spectacular attraction and the amazing revenues comes out of female body in photography, makes this field ever growing and it is true that it will have more and more appeal in the future world.

Robert Grazian is an accomplished niche website developer and author. To learn more about female body in photography visit Contemporary Photography for current articles and discussions.

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