I’ve been unconsciously developing a compositional style, and falling into a few shooting techniques for a while. This is due to the influence of other people’s photos, editing (cropping) my own photos, and messing with camera gear.
A while ago I started becoming more aware of it by looking at a few photographers on Flickr. One in particular, FakeDomainName. (many NSFW) Not only does he appear to be having a whole lot of fun, but his shooting style is a whole lot looser and spontaneous than what I’ve been doing. A big part of it is that he’s using a point & shoot. And he may not be looking through the viewfinder. What I was seeing in his photos was something fresher and more livelier than my photos. I realized that I wouldn’t have taken the same photo at all if I were in the same place at the same time, even if I had the same camera. And the photos are hardly technically perfect. They’re all about content and the moment.
I realized that when I take pictures, the camera really gets in the way. I bring it to my eye, and place stuff in the frame in a pretty even balanced way. Plus, there’s thinking about aperture, and the time it takes to focus.
I had a great time a year or so ago shooting an abandoned motel with some friends using a Pentax K1000 for the first time in years, because its such a simple camera. It felt liberating, even though I was still looking through the viewfinder, zooming & composing.
Looking at FakeDomainName’s photos, I found myself saying over and over, “I wouldn’t have taken that picture that way. That’s a moment that I would have unconsciously deemed not worth shooting. People with their backs turned, or just incidental stuff that I would have totally filtered out.
Of course I’d read the 10 Golden Rules of Lomography, one of which is shooting from the hip, and I’d done that in college a lot when I was using an Olympus XA2. I often didn’t look through the viewfinder. But I’ve also always tried to capture moments where the action or emotion are really heightened. I’d come to visualize it as a graph, with peaks where people’s action & expressions where most heightened, and I’ve always tried to capture those moments.
So as an exercise, I’m trying to break out of my style a bit and see the non-moments I would have missed.
I think I got one last weekend at a birthday party at a rural house.
By the way I cut off the woman’s head, I think I didn’t look through the viewfinder. And its not a moment where anyone’s showing heightened emotion. They aren’t even interacting, which is another thing I’ve been shooting for a long time.
This is totally not my usual compositional style. There IS a lot going on in the photo, but its a less intense moment. And the framing is unfamiliar.
Maybe I’ve been looking at it too long, but I think its my best photo this year. Or I’m just full of crap.
Here’s a few more photos from the party that I like, but are things I would have shot before.
I was using a Canon A2E SLR and 50mm.