Images with impact have an emotional effect. The raising of the flag over Iwo Jima and the similar shot of three firefighters hoisting the American flag at the site of the World Trade Center are two that come to mind. There are many more but the focus of this article is not about the ones already created. It’s about the ones I want you to make. They may never win a Pulitzer, but that doesn’t detract from the fact the photo has impact. Think about when you’re at a local camera club on a competition night and an image pops up that makes you say WOW. This is an image with impact. The same can be said for for photos in a magazine, at a museum, or any other location where pictures are on display. If they have the WOW factor, they have impact.
You may ask yourself why the title of the article has periods in between the letters of the word? The answer is simple. I created I.M.P.A.C.T. to get you to remember good photographic technique so you can make images that have it. I = Isolate; M = Manual; P = Polarizer; A = Act; C = Color; T = Telephoto.
I is for Isolate. Make it obvious what the subject is and offset it against a good background. “The background is equally as important as the subject,” is one of my favorite expressions. A clean subject offset against a clean background is a great recipe for an image with impact. The goal is to create a photograph void of distractions.
The M for Manual relates to both shooting in manual mode and to get you to read your camera manual. First of all, take your camera off program to learn more about the interaction between shutter speeds and apertures. The same can be accomplished if you use aperture or shutter priority, but manual is a direct line to the basics. The other idea of manual is for you to read, and I mean really read, your camera manual. If you haven’t, there are settings you don’t know about. My manual is highlighted and has sticky tabs so I can access the most important aspects in an instant. At least once a year, I review it so all controls remain fresh in my head.
The P represents a Polarizer. It should remind you to always bring a polarizing filter to give your pictures more pop and color. It’s the one filter that digital optimizing has yet to find a way to mimic – this is a good thing to remind you to use it. The polarizer removes glare that robs subjects of potential color. As you spin it, you’ll see the effect in the viewfinder.
The A for Act should remind you to act when the action is peak, when the expression is optimum, or whenever the decisive moment needs to be captured. Stay ready on the shutter. It means you have to keep your eye glued to the viewfinder for longer than expected. Photographers who do this are the ones who more often come home with winners.
The C represents Color. Look for striking colors and how they play off each other. Both color harmony and contrast work well. Study a color wheel and memorize the positions of color. Blue is opposite yellow. If you can combine the two in an image, the result is contrasting colors. Fall colored aspen leaves against a crisp autumn sky is a classic example.
Finally, the T represents Telephoto. It should remind you to “exhaust all possibilities,” another one of my favorite expressions. Use your telephoto AND your wide angle for most every situation you encounter. Experiment with every lens you own for every subject. Find a unique angle that separates your photography from everyone else’s.