A photographers eye, what on earth is that?
It’s funny but a photographers eye is what makes him/her different from all other photo people. And while we talk about the eye, it’s a whole lot more than that. What we see and what we photograph is a sum of many things. But mostly it is about our environment, our cultural heritage and the everyday things that effect our lives. And of course if we are photographers earning our living with a camera it’s about our clients needs. For example when I’m at a wedding photographing and I suggest that the bride stands over there beside a window. I already have a really good idea about how pictures from that location will look. I haven’t looked through the camera yet but my photographers eye has already pictured the final image. Naturally once you start shooting you build on opportunities that present themselves. For example a little turn of the brides head. A mannerism that becomes apparent while shooting or an interesting play of light. I like to have a fairly open mind about how I’m going to shoot a subject, because if I go in with a rigid preconceived idea, then I’m locking myself out of a lot of great imaging possibilities.
A street scene from Nicole and Bronson’s wedding, or was it an empty laneway with amazing light as seen by a photographers eye. More pictures from this amazing wedding shortly. I guess I should tell you that I won’t always see the same situation in the same way. That is where a photographers eye is unique. A photographer friend years ago had a completely rigid way of shooting weddings. He would shoot exactly the same number of frames at each wedding. Exactly the same poses in exactly the same way. Never altering his formula. He use to brag that if he shot five daughters from one family, each would have exactly the same coverage. Always he would shoot to the same familiar routine. He was a great photographer, very popular, very much in demand. Very dependable. I on the other hand can walk into the same house and see it totally differently to the last time I was there. The light streaming into the rooms may have changed. Something as simple as being in the room in the morning, and then again in the afternoon will influence how I feel about the room as a location. What the bride is wearing, or her personality may also effect the way I want to shoot. We often hear, “the last photographer took all the photos here”! The expectation then, is that I should take all my photos in the same position. Because that’s where another photographer worked, so all photographers will work there. Of course we won’t, for better or worse we all see differently, we all have a different photographers eye and of course different levels of experience and equipment. I recently heard of a wedding party going to a location because excitations took some photos there and they all turned out brilliantly. So naturally it would be the location that caused the photos to be so good. No one considered that it might be the way we looked at the location, how we saw it, and the way we shot it that made it so good. As it turns out it wasn’t the greatest location to shoot. Like most it could be shot well, but it wasn’t easy. I’d hate to think what pictures from an inexperienced photographer with only consumer quality cameras might look like. One last thing. Recently I upset a lady when shooting. My problem was, it seems, that I wasted time walking around looking at the object I was to photograph. Then quickly set up my camera, just glanced through the view finder and then took a photo without even looking through the camera while I was taking that shot. She reported that the photographer wasted time just looking, wasn’t even interested enough to look at what he was doing. In hindsight I agree that is exactly what it would look like to anyone not familiar with the photographic process. Let me explain. My subject was stationary. Walking around looking, was me using my photographers eye. I don’t have to look through a camera to visualize what it will look like through the camera. I know, after 30 years what look will result using any of my collection of lenses. When I finally decided on the angle I wanted to shoot the tripod mounted camera was set up. Again all I needed was a quick glance to confirm focus and framing. Then I locked the mirror in the DSLR up. Which means you can’t see through the camera anyway. Why lock the mirror? Well on a DSLR when you take a picture the tiny reflex mirror jumps up out of the way to let light pass. I was shooting a long exposure, the slightest vibration, like that caused by a mirror moving rapidly up and stopping when it hits a buffer may cause slight camera movement, causing the image to blur. So my not looking through the camera. Perceived by our client as not being interested or professional, was in fact me trying to ensure that I got the best possible image. Sometimes I forget that what I take for granted, is all strange and unusual to people not actively involved in photography. So I promise if I look like I’m doing something strange, just ask and if I have time, I’ll try and explain why I’m photographing that way.