Powerful Imagery

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You have reached the archive of articles posted on my personal blog. This blog is no longer updated, but you can read my latest articles at my new website The Creative Photographer and find my photography ebooks at my new store.

Thanks for reading! Andrew.



Powerful Imagery ebook by Mitchell Kanashkevich

Powerful Imagery, an ebook by Mitchell Kanashkevich, is on special here for one week only. Click for full details.

Mitchell Kanashkevich is a photographer I’ve admired ever since I first came across his work. Both fearless traveller and accomplished photographer, he’s created a portfolio of powerful and downright amazing work. When a photographer like Mitchell shares his ideas or wisdom, I listen.

Mitchell has recently written about creating powerful photos. This kind of thing goes beyond which aperture, lens or shutter to select, although that’s all part of the equation. At this level, it’s a given that the photographer already knows how to use these. The question is, how do you raise your photos to the next level once you’ve mastered the basics? Here are some of his ideas, and I’m going to elaborate on them with my thoughts:

1. Subject

Yes, this is a biggie. Some subjects are naturally more interesting than others, or lend themselves to powerful imagery. One thing I’ve noticed is that photographers who produce great work often do it as part of a project. That may be an assignment if the photographer is a pro, or a personal project.

Projects allow you to go deep and explore your subject. They let you come back and continue to explore your ideas. As you do so you will learn – about your subject and the best ways to photograph it. Another benefit is that you won’t be short of subjects to photograph or inspiration while you’re involved with a project.

For example, a personal project I have underway at the moment is taking portraits of circus performers. One advantage of the project is that it lets me introduce myself to new subjects. I explain that I’m working on a project and ask if they’d like to take part. Another is that once I have taken someone’s portrait, I ask them if they know anyone else who would be interested in taking part. The project is growing as I go on.

2. Composition

Another major element. I’ve been taking photos for 20 years and I don’t feel that I have mastered the art of composition. I’m still learning, much the same way as a chess grand master or a martial arts black belt is still learning, even if they are perceived as a master in their field.

A good way to learn about composition is to study the work of photographers you really like. Look at elements like line, negative space, shape, pattern, tonal contrast and aspect ratio. How has the photographer used them?

Another idea is to work in black and white. Taking away the distraction of colour lets you see the other elements of composition listed above more clearly. If you can compose an image well in black and white, you can compose it well in colour too.

3. Moment

Henri Cartier-Bresson spoke of the ‘decisive moment’ and it’s still a concept that’s relevant today. Not just in street or candid photography, but in virtually every genre of photography. In portraiture, it’s the instant that the subject’s expression and the light come together to create a beautiful portrait. In the landscape, it’s the moment that the light brings the landscape out at its best.

4. Light

I’ve mentioned light already and I’ll do it again. It’s virtually impossible to over-emphasise this point. Light is more than something that illuminates the subject and allows you to take a photo. Light creates mood, drama, atmosphere – something all the best photos have. Light is intimately linked to moment, composition and subject. All four have to come together to create a great photo.

5. Emotional impact

When light, moment, composition and subject come together, what do you have? Hopefully, an image with emotional impact. These are the photos that linger in the memory and become iconic. Emotional impact is hard to quantify. I’ll know when I see a photo whether it has emotional impact or not, but it’s hard to pin down specifics that create the impact.

The emotional impact may be subtle. It doesn’t have to hit you around the face. The peacefulness of a landscape lit by the light of the setting sun is as valid as a hard-hitting photo taken in a war zone.

Deal: Powerful Imagery

Powerful Imagery ebook by Mitchell Kanashkevich

If you’d like to learn more about the ideas in this article, then I recommend Powerful Imagery, an ebook by Mitchell Kanashkevich. He’s kindly let me offer you a 30% discount off the regular price for one week only – click here for the full details and to grab yourself a copy.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Powerful Imagery”

  1. Mike says:

    Andrew,

    I have Mitchell’s book and can thoroughly recommend it. Powerful Imagery contains 15 images presented as case studies and mini photography lessons.

    For each image Mitchell discusses the background, his objectives in taking the shot, lighting, overcoming challenges, creative decisions in the field and post processing. As someone who prefers to spend more time with the camera than in front of a computer, I found the sections on lighting, overcoming challenges and creative decisions in the field particularly useful.

    Mike

    • I’m glad you like the ebook Mike. The most valuable thing for me is the insights from a pro photographer, with genuine experience in the things he is writing about.

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