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Mar 29, 2019

Seeing something new in a subject that has been photographed thousands of times takes an incredible depth of knowledge about that subject. Let’s say that you’re in the woods, and you’ve found a rushing stream that you’d like to photograph. Before pressing the shutter, find a nice rock or log and sit down. Spend time – an hour, a day or however much time you have – just taking in your surroundings.

Listen to the sounds of the stream, the wind in the trees and the fleeting birdsong around you. Take in the fresh scents and examine how they make you feel about the scene before you. Watch the water playing over rocks or swirling around tree roots. Touch tree bark, rocks, and foliage to get a feel for the myriad textures in this vista. Enjoy the colors you find and take the time to look for contrasts between light and dark. Once you’ve studied all the elements at play before you, then you can start looking for the image within them. With luck, you’ll have found something about the scene that no one else has noticed.

But what if your subject is a person? To create a portrait, you need the same intimate knowledge of your subject, but the acquisition of that knowledge comes a bit differently. You’ll want to spend time talking with your subject and getting to know them on a personal level – not only to help them feel more comfortable in front of your lens but also to get a sense of your subject’s personality so that you can bring it out in your images.

Sometimes, though, there just isn’t time to become acquainted with your subject. Take, for example, event photography or wedding photography. It’s impossible to learn all about the entire wedding party – let alone the guests – prior to the big event. To create artistic images of those sudden special moments, you’ll need to practice on someone else. The best way to do this is to watch other people. Go to a public place like a park or mall and simply watch how people interact with each other. Before long, you’ll be able to pick out those fleeting moments and turn them into works of art.

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