Monday, June 6, 2011

What's The Most Important Thing About An Image?

I just returned from teaching a workshop in Plymouth, MA that was expertly organized by my friend Amy Davis. Thank you Amy for setting up such a wonderful event. And . . . thank you to all the participants who joined the photo fun. I can't wait to be there for our August workshop - and more lobster rolls!

We shot in a several locations and covered landscape, HDR and fill-in flash photography. The group learned how to use reflectors and diffusers - and how to see the light. We shot sunrises and sunsets. We even had an opportunity to paint with light. Yes! We also downloaded our images, enhanced them in Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, and had a group slide show.

My favorite location was the "mansion," and my favorite shot from that location leads off this post. I call it, "The Girl in the Red Dress."

I took the shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 17-40mm lens. I used an Induro tripod to steady my camera. All my gear is on my Gallery and Gear page.

Everyone got a very similar shot, by the way. Great job!

The photograph prompted me to ask the participants, "What's the most important thing about the image?"

Responses included:
- location
- subject
- subject within a subject
- color
- depth of field
- drama
- subject's pose
- and of course lighting, which was simply natural light streaming through an open door behind the subject.

All these elements added to the photograph, no doubt. However, I feel the most important part of the photograph - any photograph - is the idea. That's where it all starts . . . not with shutter speeds and f-stops and HDR programs, etc. It's all about the idea.

So my friends, keep this thought in mind: It is your ideas that will separate you from the crowd - not your gear.

Put on your thinking caps! :-)

Speaking of ideas, here is an idea I had while looking at my photograph, "The Girl in the Red Dress." Give yourself a self-assignment: over the course of several months, or even a year or more, take pictures for a themed project. That is what I am doing, as you can see from my photograph, The Girl in the Black Dress."

Explore the light,

P.S. Here is another tip, which is probably obvious by now: The subject's face does not always need to be visible in a photograph. I took this photograph, "The Girls in the Colorful Dresses," in Panama.


Anvilcloud said...

I also like the contrast in the staircase photo -- elegantly dressed lady in a rundown house. One could envision past history when the place would have been classy and well used.

Dru Stefan Stone said...

While art must start with an idea, for me the most important part of any work is the evocative feeling conveyed! Someone may have a great idea but execution of it may not achieve the evocative.

Kevin said...

Excellent advice and sound compositions. I will have to add your blog to my RSS Feed. Your one of the few photographers I've heard emphasize the word idea. I fear too many artists and photographers attempt to mimic another's idea to get that great work and it will only ever be great for the visions the original person has for it. Well sorry for the ramble. I love how you are able to keep it simple and the advice effective.

Sunny Archibald said...

I so want you to come to Tulsa and have a workshop exactly like the one in Plymouth.

Betty Wiley said...

As a workshop participant, I have to say that the entire weekend with Rick was amazing. It's hard to pick a highlight as we did so many great things, but the "woman with the red dress on" (to borrow the title from a popular song...) was definitely awesome and probably my favorite! Rick was tireless and he really had his "thinking cap" on all weekend and he had us try so many different and creative things. Betty

One Woman's Thoughts said...

Enjoyed all of the photos very much, they're gorgeous!

But I have to say the one with the red dress and stairway stands out as intriguing and memorable.

Julie said...

I call it my vision. I have an idea in my head and set about to execute it. I may not get it exactly right the first time, but I keep trying till I have it. This is a good time for me creativly because I have a few visions dancing around in my head.

Maureen Begin said...

Advice from a dear friend for me to follow: "My camera; my vision; my way!" I find more success each time I follow her advice! Thanks, Rick, for a wonderful workshop in Plymouth. Amy DID outdo herself once again; but then so did you! I also benefitted from your Susan's advice as well! She's a "keeper"! How can you not just love "The girl in the red dress"? It's Julie!