If you read my last post, I shared over 11 major points when considering image presentation. Most of it was about framing without skipping important steps.
(If you would like to read that post, simply find it on the top left side of the page. It is titled “Image Creation to Presentation” or you can click here to read later.)
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be finalizing my images for one of my larger photography shows of the year. It is one of the prestigious Native American Fine Art expositions on the planet and it happens the first week of March in Phoenix, AZ.
While planning new images to frame and print, I wanted to share with you some major common denominators about my best selling images.
Before a photograph comes to life, I always look at 9 things which are divided up into 3 groups – Use of Light, Message and Guiding Elements. I feel these are easier to find since using film allows me to slow down and look for these minute details.
These details or subjects will be seen since I’m not printing smaller than 20″. A lot of my final work measures between 30″ and 6 feet!
The following information is about important basic’s that will highlight “Guiding Elements”. I’ll write more about “Use of Light” and “Message” later.
In “Guiding Elements” I often look for three important items when taking a photograph. They are The Director, The Resident and The Visitor. Of these three, the most important to me is The Director.
The Director is like the front door to a house. It guides the visitors on how to enter the home. Without it, it’s like getting into the home (burglar style) – through the window or (Santa style) through the chimney.
Other entrances besides the door is probably no fun, sketchy and maybe illegal!
The Director grabs the attention of the viewer and guides them into a specific direction. We all know first impressions speak a lot!
Most times, of the entire composition, The Director guides the viewer with natural elements or is guided by the use of light. The Director makes us look around and find other wonderful parts of the image like leaves, pebbles, mountains, etc. It guides us along instead of punching us in the face. It allows us to begin enjoying the entire image rather than just a specific area of the composition.
This is the the element that does not move nor should it. It is an element that stays put and only something huge can move it. It’s rock solid. It could be a mountain, a canyon wall, a 500 year old tree…. you get it.
Since I specialize in photographing the Southwest and Navajoland, we have a lot of these formations and they aren’t going anywhere.
Many are found inside Canyon De Chelly like Spider Rock and many are found throughout Monument Valley. These Towers of Navajo Sandstone aren’t going anywhere – anytime soon.
Introducing them into the composition isn’t that difficult. But when included, regardless of landscape location, it add’s a solidifying message. In a few weeks from now, I will be in Alaska still following the same proven system of approaching photography.
Lastly, The Visitor.
The Visitor is an element that comes and goes. It allows our minds to wonder “what would the image be like if….”
– there was no lightning.
– there was no cloud(s)
– there was no moon.
– there was more snow.
The Visitor is an element that enlightens our imagination AND most importantly, it allows us to appreciate the exact moment portrayed in the photograph.
The Visitor is what makes an image unique. Like photographing a flood ripping through the slot canyons. We hardly see that. Or the Grand Canyon immersed in fog and after many days, we are finally able to see the entire canyon….again.
One of my favorite “Visitors” was seeing Randy Johnson pitch a 100mph baseball and the bird got WHACKED out of mid-air by his pitch.
Unintentional but memorable and unique!
For me, The Visitor add’s the most to the image because it continually allows the viewer to contemplate the all wonderful question of “what if….”.
Here are a couple of samples of what I refer to as The three Guiding Elements. Again, this is my approach and it is what I’ve found to consistently generate wonderful images. Apply them if you wish – IF so, it’ll only tell a greater story.
For those of you attending my workshops, we will talk about the three Guiding Elements in greater detail and how it directly relates to ‘Use of Light’ and ‘Message’.
As you can see in the image above, I intentionally walked at the base of the sand dunes to Direct the viewer to the large spire known as “Totem Pole” in Monument Valley. Further to the right of the sand dune, all the ripples and light, led to the moon.
I continued and found this composition as it added the use of light and it guides the viewer to The Resident – Totem Pole.
Lastly, this image works because of the balance the moon provides to the image with guidance from The Director – The Sand Dune ripples. Learning what on earth to photograph when there are no clouds can be a challenge.
The Visitor – the moon, comes and goes. Without the moon, the image would be boring. Flat out boring and left heavy.
One of my workshop attendee’s was photographing right below a large vertical wall. I ran out front and took an image of him because it was very unique.
The Director is the photographer. We see his lens pointing to the right and makes us wonder, “Well if it looks this awesome from this point, what on earth is he photographing over to the right? Is there something better, cooler, nicer???”
The Director in this case also makes us look at the image again. Maybe a little slower because THE GUY IS UPSIDE DOWN! Something not normal. The reflection of the photographer guides us to The Visitor.
The Visitor here would be the origin of the reflection. We wonder, where is this guy standing at? Again the visitor is something that comes and goes.
Lastly, The Resident in this image is the wall. Though it is presented through a reflection, the wall isn’t going anywhere unless mother earth rumbles.
Now you see The Director, The Resident and The Visitor. One beautiful thing about the direction I wanted to create was an “S”.
I hope this helps you begin searching for the wonderful details in each image you take. Again, each image I create is also guided by provided Light and there is always a message. Without the message, I feel my photographs are lost and without words.
To Finding The Guiding Elements,
* I promise I’ll never send you junk and will keep your contact information private. We do not sell, rent or give your contact information away. If you have already subscribed, you should have already received the 17 Page Blueprint and the other great bonus items.
Lastly, if there was something helpful you read, comment below.