“How many photographs did you take of that particular subject?” It’s a question I ask my students so often, and frequently the answer is – ‘Just the one’.
When you have a subject in front of you – explore it! Take pictures.
Look at your chosen subject from different angles, move closer, move back. Adjust your framing and composition until you are totally satisfied that you have captured exactly what it was that caught your eye. Take pictures of each different angle. Take lots of photographs!
If you are photographing people, don’t just point the camera nervously and press the button furtively as if you are some sort of criminal. Take pictures. Explore your subject. You have a right to take pictures of people in public places.
I spotted this man fishing on the quayside late in the afternoon in Menorca. The golden light was lovely with the sun low in the sky. The first thing I spotted was the light on the man’s straw hat.
He was looking down as he put new bait on his hook, and as I was standing above him up some steps, he did not notice me at first. I took several photographs before he looked up and spotted me.
With new bait on his fish hook, he turned back to the water and started fishing again. I simply walked into a new position where I could shoot straight into the low sun – backlight – and I had a completely new angle and a fresh approach to the subject.
Even then I could make adjustments to the composition by re-positioning myself – moving to the left and to the right.
First I tried dividing the composition with the reflected light on the right of the picture and the fisherman on the left of the picture. Then I moved to place the silhouette of the fisherman directly in the highlights of the sun reflected on the water.
This worked quite well but I did not much like the way the glaring highlights on the water degraded the outline of the man’s hat and face
By the time I had finished, I could walk away knowing that I had done all I could to get the most from the situation. I had a set of a dozen different photographs.
And that is the key – never leave a picture-making situation until you know you will get nothing more from it. It is wonderfully satisfying to be able to walk away with the knowledge that you have done all you can – that you have done your best.
When you come on a Photography Course with Philip Dunn, you will learn many professional secrets that will help you create great photographs.
Philip Dunn’s Photography Holidays cover the basis of Travel Photography which includes coaching in photographing people and street photography. For many years Philip was the travel photographer for The Sunday Times.