Why do you take photographs? This is a question of often ask students and occasionally ask myself. It seems a bit of an odd question when first asked but I find that the answer is different for many people and there can be multiple reasons. Why you take photographs or what you want to photograph effects the techniques you need to learn and the equipment you might need to buy.
Jane The wartime comic strip character
Where do I want to sell my pictures?
Always a sensible question to ask yourself when taking a photograph. Composing photos that sell is not always easy. My article Photographic Composition covers the basics but this article looks at composing for specific uses and markets.
Let’s start the right way up
I have sold a lot of pictures for use on covers. Book covers are generally vertical. How often do you see people trying to photograph the bride and groom at a wedding holding the camera horizontally? Most people are taller than they are wide. Mobile phones work just as well horizontally as vertically so why do people shoot video vertically? The last time I looked my TV and this computer screen were both horizontal. If the subject will fit why not shoot one horizontal and one vertical picture and maximise your chances of a sale.
What lens have you got on that?
I hate talking about gear when I am using it. As a long suffering wedding photographer I used to dread the approach of the serious looking old gentleman with a scuffed brown leather cased, 50’s vintage, camera round his neck. Usually he had just been fiddling with for at least ten minutes to take one photograph of his rather overweight, and definitely bored, wife in her best hat. I knew the inevitable question was coming.
‘What sort of lens have you got on that?’
‘That’ was usually a 6×4.5 Bronica film camera. We used to use medium format cameras because no one believed you were a pro with a 35mm SLR
My reply was often a completely genuine, ‘I don’t know.’
I could see him debating as to whether to rush off and exclaim to the bride that she had booked a complete idiot to take her wedding pictures, or whether to tell me not to be such a sarcastic bugger.
Many years ago, when the only things that were digital were your fingers or your watch, I won a photographic magazine’s cover girl competition. Not me personally you understand – one of my photographs.
A couple of weeks later an excited young photographer and his girlfriend, who just happened to be the scantily clad subject of the winning photograph, arrived at a posh Park Lane hotel for the prize giving. I don’t remember much about the event apart from one rather disparaging comment from the editor. ‘Your picture won because you were the only one who left space for the title.’ This was probably not the most tactful thing to say to an aspiring young photographer about his first competition win.
Taking better photographs depends on a lot of factors. I recently took part in a critique where a photographer put up a technically perfect but aesthetically boring picture of a nude. He commented that he had no concept or message when taking the picture but would like to do more ‘artistic’ work. I suggested that if he worked on having the former then the latter might naturally flow.
Captioning aircraft photos can be a bit daunting especially if you are not an aircraft nut and barely know the difference between a Boeing and a Bolkow.
Kazan is the capital of the semi autonomous republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation. The Qolsarif Mosque is a relatively new addition to the Kremlin in the city.
If you ask the average English speaking person to name a city where Asia meets Europe they will probably say Istanbul – if you mention Kazan the response is often, where? Standing on the banks of the Volga and astride the Kazanka river the thousand year old city of Kazan in Tatarstan was founded on the a junction of the northern silk road. Kazan is still a vibrant example of eastern and western cultures meeting and mixing in harmony; even the name means cooking pot or cauldron in the native Tatar language.