Why and How: Improving Your Photos in 15 Steps – Part 3
Tip #8: Look at Nature in a Different Way
If you want to create interesting and creative nature photographs, do not look at nature as it really is. Try to look beyond what you see.
For example, for me, a tree is not a simple vegetative photographic element. It is a witness of the time passing. Its bark represents the wrinkles of time.
Flamingos on a salted lake are not only birds that come there to feed. I see them as musical notes floating above the scale of water.
Sand dunes are not only natural desert shapes. For me, these are the playful whims of the winds.
If you give an interpretation of what you see in nature, you will interest your audience. Indeed, you suggest questions and analyzes. This is what will make your photographic artistry interesting.
My best advice for this paragraph is to allow your imagination to run.
Let yourself go before you trigger your camera. Imagine what the nature scene you have in front of you can suggest or symbolize.
Tip #9: Create Photos for Yourself
Do you capture photos solely for a competition or exhibition? I think it is a great idea. Indeed, you set goals to be achieved over time. You are motivated. This is how you can move forward.
However, I recommend that you propose and present photographs that look like you. If you create a stream of random photos just for an exhibition or a contest, you will fall into a monotonous routine and you will tire.
In my case, I had the opportunity to be selected several times for some prestigious wildlife festivals. I had carefully chosen my wildlife photo collections. I wanted my images to conform to the expectations of the organizers and the judges. I had created them. I wanted to showcase them, but they were not exactly fitted to my soul and my passion, to what I wanted to show.
For two years after, I chose to propose photo series that resembled me more. In addition, these were series that had had excellent commercial success. Each time, these series were refused politely because I did not meet the editorial lines of the festivals.
Now, I participate in festivals which are more private, but which correlate more to myself. I feel a lot better because I better express what I have to say.
My advice for you is to enter contests or exhibitions that match your photographic artistry. It will be more rewarding. You will be happier and more satisfied because you will have the impression of creating something meaningful.
Tip #10: Imagine your Photos Before Shooting
Never forget that your photographs are only a translation of what you see. Of course, you must consider this in the case of artistic photography and not illustrative photography.
You must learn to view your photos before triggering your camera.
This approach requires an effort of concentration. Remember that your gaze can encompass an angle of 180 degrees even if it only sees details in 140 degrees. This is quite wide if you think that you will cover at best 110 degrees with a lens with a focal length of 14 mm.
Before putting your eye behind the view finder or your camera screen, think about the photo you want to create. Imagine the message in a few words or a few adjectives. The more you qualify your scenes, the more interesting your photos will be.
You must choose your photographic elements carefully to express your emotions.
Let me give you an example. Often when I photograph deer during the rut, I like to translate the concept of natural power. I like to show determination, as well as elegance.
Freedom is also an important aspect in my photographic and artistic approach. When I prepared my collection "The Lords of the Woods and Meadows” I was careful to photograph the red deer stags whose gaze was determined and whose stature was haughty. I always take the time to wait to seize the moment when the deer was in three quarters to show muscles, the coat, the strength of the animal.
For my décor, I found wide and open scenes with a large clearing to represent space and freedom.
Each photographic element was captured to translate values in which I believe.
If you want your photos to be interesting, I recommend this visualization technique before shooting.
Tip #11: Be Simple
The best advice I can give you to create interesting photos is to be as simple as possible.
Be simple in choosing your photographic elements. Be simple in the choice of framing. Be simple in expressing your emotions. Be simple in the story you tell.
Unfortunately, and this is one of the biggest lessons I learned in my job as a professional photographer: to learn how to be simple takes time. A lot of time.
In my case, I measure this time in years.
And even today, when I create, it is not uncommon for me to redo two or three times the processing of a photo or a collection. This does not even include the number of times I must go out into the field to express a simple message.
Being simple requires long-term learning about the use of photo gear, shooting, development, printing, and story creation. Nature photography is a complex creative and technical field.
What I recommend for you to learn simplicity is to try.
If the creation does not satisfy you, you must start again. It is through repetition that you will eventually acquire simplicity.
Tip #12: Finding a Mentor
By definition, a mentor is a wise and experienced advisor.
He is a person for whom we have special esteem and who we can follow as an example.
If you can find a mentor to help you photograph, feel free to follow his advice, as they will save you valuable time in your photographic activity.
Personally, I recognize that one of my biggest regrets in my photographic career is that I never looked for or found a mentor.
Today I regret it. It took me over 10 years to figure out how to create interesting photos. It took me a lot of time to define my photographic “why” or purpose.
I am a complete autodidact. I learned by reading books, magazines, and by following online classes. I listened to a lot of photographers who boasted that they knew the secret to great photography, only to later discover that they did not know as much as they claimed.
I have been wronged many times. I no longer count failures. If a person would have advised to avoid the many pitfalls that I had to overcome, I would have grown much faster. Who knows today what I could create in photography!
This mystery will remain one of the biggest questions of my life.
It is for this reason that I created this blog dedicated to creative photography. It allows me to spread my skills, my knowledge and a bit of my know-how. So, if you really want to progress quickly in your way of creating interesting photos, look towards someone who inspires you as an example for creating photos. You will save considerable time.
Tip #13: Tell Stories
A photo, a good collection or a good series always has a story. This story will allow you to highlight your images.
When you tell a photographic story, it should be short. It must talk about you. But be careful in the way you do it because the most important thing is that your viewer needs to find himself in the story you are telling.
Never forget that each person is only interested in their own self. If you tell stories in which a viewer cannot place himself, you will be wasting your time. Your photos will not be saved.
In my case, there is always a story when I create. This story allows me to bring to life the picture in my mind.
To create stories:
- Be simple.
- Be concise.
- Encourage dreams.
- Do not talk about technique.
- Stay on a human and emotional level.
Tip #14: Choose Two or Three Photo Themes
If you choose to photograph nature, I recommend that you choose two or three themes, and nothing more. Do not disperse yourself.
The more you spread yourself thin, the less interesting your photographs will be.
The reason is simple: you will not acquire mastery of each of the photographic fields. You are not going to strive for simplicity. You will always have a hard time getting your message across to convey your emotions.
The more you specialize in certain photographic fields, the more expertise you will acquire and the more your photos will make sense.
Remember that your domains must be consistent with each other. This way, you will adapt techniques from one to the others.
Tip #15: Practice
For my last piece of advice, I would recommend that you practice as often as possible. During my photo workshops, I often repeat that:
- « Knowledge without action is worthless »
- « Learning without action is worthless ».
You should always practice, whether you are searching for inspiration, focusing on the creation of a photo project, participating in shooting, development, printing on paper, or the creation of stories.
The more you practice, the more you will develop your expertise. You will become better.
You do not need to go to the ends of the earth to perfect your photographic expertise. A garden, a park not far from home, a small wood, a pond, or a meadow, are all wonderful places where you can train.
Practice is unquestionably the major ally of your learning.
This training will allow you to master the technique once you are in the field. You will no longer waste time on repetitive and monotonous questions. Everything will flow naturally. Do not hesitate to take your camera and walk in nature. Make photo essays and look the results on your computer.
You will always be more disappointed by what you have not done than by the actions you have taken. Take the plunge.
To create interesting photos, do not forget:
- It takes time and patience.
- Never stop learning new techniques to simplify your photographic artistry.
- Try to find you a guide that will help you go faster in your learning.
- Go to the field to apply what you have learned.
- Be empathetic, be humble.
To conclude, I would recommend that you create photos that look like you. Your stories will be even easier to tell. It is at this precise moment that you will find your audience.