Photography is progressive. As an art, a hobby, or a profession, there is never an ending point. Photographers continue to learn and grow—fine tuning old skills and acquiring new ones. Listening to what other successful photographers have to say can lead us to fresh realizations or encourage us to try something different. Check out this short but sweet interview with advertising photographer Hunter Freeman in his pursuit to create truly captivating imagery:
Freeman has produced advertising photography for companies such as Apple, Toyota, and Toshiba. He is first given a layout (sometimes detailed, sometimes not), then he makes a list of things he will need for the shoot, and finally, he gets to work creating appealing material.
But what makes a photograph compelling? And how do you achieve a ‘compelling’ image?
“It’s like saying what makes compelling food? For lots of people, including me, it’s all kinds of different tastes…same thing with photographs for me.”
The idea of captivating, and how you get there, is going to be different for every individual. But focusing on a few solid strategies can help point you in the right direction.
Identify the Incredible
As amazing as our world is, not every photographic task thrown our way is exciting. But, as photographers, it’s our jobs to make it so. Sometimes the allure of our subject is as obvious as an elephant in the room. Other times we have to dig deep, figure out what is interesting about our subject, and then reveal it.
For objects, think about how the object is used, or how light interacts with it.
For a human subject, concentrate on their personality and physical qualities. What is this person like, and how do they act? Are they funny, melancholic or eccentric? Where are they from or what do they do on their free time? Your subject may have wonderful eyes, hands, freckles or wrinkles. A pleasing crooked nose or a quirky smile can be incredible traits.
Get to Know Your Subject
In order to discern their remarkable qualities, you will have to take a little time to figure out who your subject really is. Try a one-on-one before the shoot, even in the few minutes leading up to one. Consider forgetting about your camera—in fact, hide it away altogether for a moment and chat with your subject. This will bring a new dynamic to your relationship and allow both parties to relax. Feeling comfortable will help let your subject’s true self shine.
Keep the Camera Rolling
We have all heard photographers talk about “getting the moment.” It is quite an instinctual thing, and sometimes being in the right place at the right time can play a huge role in capturing it. But we can also create a space to allow this to happen. Tell your subjects to pretend camera is “rolling.” Moving as if you’re shooting a video—instead of a still image—minimizes posing and promotes more authentic actions. It will also give you more chances to capture the magic in the scene.
“I don’t think you can pose a real moment…that real moment happens when somebody makes a funny expression or pauses for a second, or makes a comment and they become relaxed in the continuity of what they’re doing. They’re not worried about having one specific moment be the picture.”
There is no perfect recipe to capturing captivating images. But a passion for your work, open-mindedness, and experimentation are three of the best ingredients.
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