TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
© Jack Graham
I tried for some time to come up with a great name for this writing. I simply cannot. Read on, you will see why.
Most photographers I see these days are very afraid to venture beyond the norm and try something new and different. Why? Perhaps we are afraid of failure. It’s impossible to know the success of every image before you make it. Fearing failure will suppress your creativity and in most cases only allow for the same old view of the same old subject. Allow yourself to experiment with composition and other aspects in photography. Often if you throw away your instincts and don’t worry about the image succeeding, you will succeed in getting a new interpretation of an iconic subject. Allow yourself to be flexible.
Many of the published images I see these days are versions of things I have seen before. The newness and originality is lost. Though they may be technically and compositionally perfect, these images are slight variations of what’s been done over and over before. On workshops I see students capturing the same interpretation of a subject that’s been done over and over. Why not look to do something different?
The first to photograph a subject or location is, by the definition the “original”, the originator of that image. Those who follow may be looked at as non-original. They certainly do not have to be. However if you take the literal definition of original, they are. What is important is whether the photographer’s expression, concept and view of the subject lend itself to originality.
As I return to locations, either alone or with clients, I not only think of how I can photograph a scene different, but try to convey this concept to my clients as well. This happens before the camera comes out and the tripod gets put in position. Why not say to yourself, upon arriving at an iconic place, “What can I do here that I have not seen before?”
Think about perhaps making a panorama of the subject. Last year I ran into a very famous and well known photographer (and a great marketer) in the Portland (OR) Japanese Garden. He (and I, I must admit) along with countless others have photographed the famous maple tree that grows there. Knowing this fellow liked to do panoramas, I walked him to the other side of the garden, away from the crowds and showed him another, less photographed maple tree. His panorama image of this tree is hanging in his galleries and selling for thousands of dollars. Making a panorama of a maple tree? Who would have thought to do that? This is precisely the thinking one must apply in order to be creative when around a subject matter that has been photographed so many times.
Last year in Reykjavik, Iceland we went to the Harpa Centre, the main concert hall and a magnificent structure. Images of the lit up window panes at night are prolific. How could I photograph this different from what I’ve seen? My thought was to make tight abstract images since I have not seen many of these. Try using abstracts to be creative in places often photographed. Abstracts in close up photography can be quite interesting as well.
While scouting prior to a workshop in the Eastern Sierra, I made the image of Mono Lake found here. Most photographers go there for the classic tufa against the sunrise or sunset images. Few photographers, let alone travelers I have shown this image to, even know it’s Mono Lake. It was taken from a different location and under different light than often viewed.
Don’t allow yourself to think later in the day after leaving a subject that “I should have photographed that subject like I was thinking.” Allow yourself to do so when you are motivated to do so and seize the opportunity before you. How often is your first idea your best?
The process of making an image starts with defining a subject, having a concept and using your imagination. It ends with perhaps a fine art print. I remember reading in one of Minor White’s books of this very idea. He said, “We photograph something for what it is and for what else it is.” This is so true.
Take a few minutes and check THIS out! …. And always try something new and different.
Text and Photos ©, Copyright Jack Graham. Contents cannot be used in anyway without written permission from Jack Graham Photography. All Rights reserved