This is a question, that surprisingly I don’t get asked enough; how do I create stonger imagery?…I do get asked a lot of execution questions about histograms, contrasty light, grad filters and a host of others, but I really love it when someone jumps right to the meat and potatoes of it and asks, “how do you know when you’ve created something strong?”
Well, this is fairly simple to field actually because I start by saying that there should be an immediate emotional response. Even today, I look at powerful images from others and am awestruck by how the strength of something captured by a camera can hold so much power. My stomach reacts, I become extremely focused, I can’t look away and I want to know more about the image.
But how is that accomplished you say? There are certain elements that consistently come together to formulate the aforementioned reaction: Simplicity. Yes, this is often over-looked in creating. People strive to get as much into the image as they’re feeling at the time. This is not the best approach. Try to focus on a subject matter that you feel needs portraying. It may be a landscape, a flower, a face, it doesn’t matter! KISS (keep it simple, sista). By keeping distracting elements away from your subject matter, your images will immediately become stronger.
Compositional balance: Think of your camera as a teeter-totter when you’re looking through your view-finder. You should ‘feel’ the balance while viewing. Not too heavy on one side or the other with subject matter, but a nice balanced feel. It becomes easier with practise. Also, for the most part, use your ‘rule of thirds’ to accomplish a pleasing composition. If you have a ‘grid’ option in your camera’s menu, try it, I love mine. Not just for composition but horizon lines as well!
Story-telling. I know, sounds like a children’s novel right? But, by creating an image that leads the viewer on a visual journey, we’ve immediately piqued their interest big time! Repetition and leading lines out of the image create a ‘I want more’ effect, and that element is huge! It doesn’t always present itself, but when it does take advantage of it. The viewer, most likely won’t even know when they’re so drawn to the image but yet, they’ll be compelled to know more. Boom, now you’ve got them hooked!
Photography means ‘painting with light’. Which leads me to the last and one of, if not the most important elements of imagery; light! The quality and emotion of light we use to create our images has an absolutely huge effect on the overall impact and feel of the final product. Great light outside comes twice a day, dawn and dusk. There is a ‘golden hour’ at each end of the spectrum. If you’re trying to improve your imagery this is a prime time to do so. For other subjects besides landscapes for instance, great light is still imperative and can be found or manufactured, you just have to look for it. Whether it’s close-up work, portraits or even animals, dynamic lighting will push that image to the next level.
Combine all the elements that I’ve talked about here, and I guarantee that you will immediately see results. Don’t fool yourself though, strong imagery takes time and hard work to accomplish. The more effort you put in, the more you get out. Sorry for the cliché, but nothing can be more true here.
For more information and examples, go to my website at: www.kellyfunkphotography.com I offer a host of workshops that can help you get the most out of your passion.