When we take a picture we do more than just capture a moment; we invite others to see the world through our eyes.
As you may have noticed, we love photography here at The Daily Post (and we have the free ebook to prove it!). Judging by the hundreds of responses to each of our Weekly Photo Challenges, so do you. But what is it about a scene, a place, or a moment that makes us reach for our cameras and snap an image? Regular Daily Post contributors Cheri, Krista, Michelle, and Ben share their photo-taking quirks.
When I go out and take photos, I tend to wander into quieter places. I’m not as comfortable pointing the camera into a crowd. I’m more interested in “indirect” portraits: a person caught off guard, looking away; an odd angle; an off-center composition. While I like photographing movement and landscapes, my favorite images are quiet and focused.
This shot at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin shows a few examples of what I look for when out and about with my camera (or these days, my iPhone): a single point of focus, evidence of light, and a distinct POV.
The silhouette down the corridor is the focal point in this image. Because there were many people exploring the memorial that day, I waited for a while in this spot to capture a shot with no one else in the frame. I also look at a scene to ensure there are no extraneous details — every object, line, and shape is present for a reason. I enjoy experimenting with POV the most, and you’ll often find me lying on the ground or tilting my screen: I love the way the world looks from street level, and how I can change a simple scene by playing with diagonals.
When I get the chance to explore a new city, I love to wander and collect seemingly unremarkable split-seconds in time: fleeting expressions, gestures, or interesting juxtapositions. I use my iPhone exclusively and I love the ease with which I can capture these everyday moments. I’ll often hold the camera at waist level and use the volume button to deploy the shutter randomly.
This haphazard method brings mixed results: I end up with many horrible, sometimes undecipherable photos, though every so often, I’ll discover a surprise that delights me.
This 2011 photo of two lovers snuggling on a bench in a Budapest churchyard is one of my serendipitous shots from the hip. I snapped a few photos walking by and one of them turned out not too badly. I love the fact that the couple is slightly off-center and that they’re not quite in sharp focus. Not only do I find this lack of precision pleasing, it also helps to communicate that dizzy joy of falling in love.
There are three things that make me whip out my camera every time (much to the chagrin of my travel companions, who often walk for several more minutes before realizing I’ve strayed from the path in search of my shot)…
- An interesting juxtaposition — light with dark, old with and new, hard with soft.
- People in places — I’m always more drawn to a picture that brings a setting to life by showing the way we interact with that place.
- A tiny detail — I shoot on a DSLR with a 50 millimeter f/1.4 lens; it can achieve a very shallow depth of field, and I abuse that ability regularly. I love focusing on small, unexpected details and letting the rest of the scene fall out of focus.
Someone left this flower and love note tied to the fence around the tombs of Abélard and Héloïse, the main players of one of history’s more enduring and tragic love stories. It hit my photo trifecta: the dried flower and handwritten note are an interesting juxtaposition with the iron bars and stone carvings, show us how people relate to this monument, and are the perfect detail for aperture abuse. Most importantly, the photo is not only a reminder of visiting that place, but tells me a story about star-crossed lovers then and now.
97% of my photos are of my son eating cake and/or refusing to look straight at the camera. The remaining 3% tend to focus on manmade landscapes, especially if there’s some interesting repetition or geometric play going on. Train tracks, parking lots, library stacks — I find these types of “boring” spaces endlessly fascinating, and easy to shoot with an iPhone (aka my one and only camera).
I have a particular penchant for infrastructure; I love how unusual framing (or a bit of cropping…) can transform the discreet beauty of civil engineering into something abstract and mysterious.
I took this photo at the top of Grouse Mountain, in North Vancouver. You get to see some of the best views in the world when you’re up there, but my eyes kept returning to this cable car support tower. It was a perfect combination of strength and grace, like a ballet dancer; all those crisscrossing lines didn’t hurt, either. Nature? It’s there in the hazy background, giving the photo some needed texture. Thanks, nature!
What are some of your favorite photography subjects? What makes you take out your camera?