C.P. #4: Seeing and Framing

The walking photographer

First things first: I’ll be using the abbreviation C.P. to shorten ‘Creative Process’; titles of posts were just getting a bit long!

In today’s post, I want to share a bit about how I shoot when I’m just walking around and some of the thoughts that I put into my snapshots. Even though my photography brain isn’t constantly scanning for the next ‘amazing’ shot, there is a level of awareness of how the world around me might look through the view of a lens. Here’s an example of this…

Prins Hendrikkade

As my wife and I were walking around during our afternoon of free time before our ship’s departure, I became aware of the view ahead of us. The combination of architecture, modes of transport, sidewalk, signage, traffic light and bicycles outnumbering car, it all screams something that is very Dutch in our minds.

After that initial assessment, the creative process part of the brain kicks in, as I looked on how to capture this scene and produce the right guidance for our eyes to allow our mind to process parts of this image step by step.

The first decision was to ask my wife to stop walking for a moment, so that I could have the less-lighted space create a set of leading lines into the main parts of the image. You’ll notice that by default our eyes will start in the lower right hand part of the image and then quickly move more toward the center of the image (for an experiment, try starting your eyes in a different part of the image and notice what they do).

As I composed this shot with my iPhone, I moved to the left and right to see how the lines would lead toward the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the background. You’ll notice that I settled more toward the left side of the sidewalk, as that enabled me to use the shadows of the building to my left to frame the image and not have the eye go all the way left in the image. Similarly, but less pronounced, the tree on the right helps frame that side.

Taking the couple of seconds to make these decisions, allowed the bicyclist coming towards me to be in the shade, and not be the subject of the shot; it helped that the traffic lights for bicyclists and pedestrians had just turned green!

Of course, I did shoot this image with a bit of safety, as you can see from the original…

iPhone original for above image

You’ll notice that there is quite a bit of extra margin, so that the crop can create a suitable image. I chose to use the iPhone’s 4:3 aspect ratio for the final image, as it felt pretty natural for this scene.

I hope that this quick overview of some of what goes on in my photography brain when I walk around. Please feel free to comment, share your process or ask questions.

Author: jansenphoto

A Fresh Perspective Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment. Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael. My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals. Universal Connections My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation. This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections. Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client. And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!

3 thoughts on “C.P. #4: Seeing and Framing”

  1. I love it! I am always thinking about what around me would make a great photo. Sometimes I just have to turn it off in my mind if it’s not an option (like if we are driving). Thanks for the tips on this one!!

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