The other day I heard an old Fleetwood Mac song, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” and decided to apply a photographic twist. If you know the song, sing along, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Your Photo.” Photographically, force yourself to go beyond the obvious. What exactly does this mean? Basically, every subject you photograph has intrigue or else you wouldn’t point your camera in its direction. But, all too often, photographers move on to something new far too quickly, which results in a missed photo opportunity. The reason this occurs is it’s all too easy to reconcile the fact that different may be better. What we often fail to realize is the “different” may still be there after we look beyond the obvious directly in our midst. Does this always hold water? Absolutely not, but working a subject to its fullest is too often left for others. In these few paragraphs, I hope I can encourage at least a few of you to Don’t Stop Thinking About Your Photo, to maximize your time with every photo op you encounter.
We’re led to believe that more subjects means more photos which means better photos and a better shoot. Personally, I’d rather come home with five excellent shots than a hundred or so average ones. Advertising has us believe that bigger is better, more is the way to go, faster is the only way, and combining all three is Utopian. Photographically, combining these concepts often proves to be counterproductive. I much prefer to slow down, make fewer but better images, and not concern myself with having the newest, biggest, and best that’s first off the production line.
Within almost every photo, there is another waiting to be made. This is where the focus of the articles lies. Within the grand landscape, the shot of the delicate flower awaits the discerning photographer. On the facade of the towering skyscraper appears an intimate detail calling for a macro lens to preserve its memory. The full body portrait that just heard the echo of a shutter quietly calls out to a photographer to not overlook the weathered and jeweled hands that show character lines of age and experience. The classic old car polished to a glistening sheen urges us to move in close to capture the detailed work that the designers in Detroit worked so hard to engineer. The pattern that you should have realized by now is that once you photograph the overall subject that enticed you in the first place, go ahead and move in for the close shot. The more you study what’s before you, the more you’ll be drawn to an additional photo the same way you were drawn to what initially enthralled you.
More times than you think, the photo within the photo turns out to be a more compelling image than the photo that lured you in the first place. How cool is that? In each of the three photos that accompany this article, I went beyond the obvious shot to capture something more intimate, meaningful and descriptive of the situation. So, the next time you’re out shooting, even though you know there’s something around the corner, spend more time visiting the subject in the present and go beyond the obvious.