My first few years of photography were spent chasing content. Trying to find wild, strange, and exotic things to show people.
I would dismiss a well composed and well light photograph of a static object as being “easy.” I think that this was a mistake.
I think I did it because two things happen when I look at a picture. First, I’m sucked in by the style1 of the photo. Second — once the style has brought me into the photograph and made me stay a while — do I even begin to see the content of the photo.
But the content is by far the easiest thing for me to remember. I’ll remember what was happening in the photograph — the scene, the people, and the events — and I’ll totally forget the style that brought me into the photo in the first place.
Looking back today at my favorite pictures it’s clear that those photos had both amazing content and amazing style. I don’t think I would have looked at them if the style wasn’t amazing.
So I’ve been spending time lately trying to photograph “boring” things well. I might photograph the intersection of colors found in the street, the arrangement of scattered chairs in a field, or the things I have in my pockets arranged on a table. For almost anything I can find there are both good and bad ways to photograph it and there are lessons to be learned from the experimentation.
- I’m using style as shorthand for composition, lighting, and any non-content aspect of a photo that makes it look beautiful. [return]