food photography, travel photography & cinemagraphs

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How to Create Beautiful Photographs

Beauty is within the eye of the beholder and I’m perfectly aware that photography is an extremely subjective pursuit. Not all of us are drawn to the same things and some of the things I might love about a photo, could be the exact same elements that repel you. As a photographer, composition, color and emotion are the elements that I think of and look for when I’m out photographing. 

Composition

Photography began as a very technical challenge for me. At the beginning, I struggled to find the appropriate shutter speed and aperture for each moment. My initial photography forays were filled with overexposed and underexposed duds. Once I figured out how to arrange my settings to get the photo I envisioned each time, I then moved on to the far more amorphous task of figuring out how to compose an image.

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Most of my thoughts about photography these days revolve around composition. How to arrange myself and my camera around the world to frame everything in the best possible way? For day to day shooting, I focus predominately on creating dynamic images that convey the moment. Thankfully, I've learned that contorting myself to try and see things upside down, like in the photo above on the right, doesn't really help the process. 

With wedding photography, my main focus in terms of composition is to create a beautiful and flattering image. 

Color or Tone 

For a long time, I always set out to create happy and bright photos. Over the last couple of years, whenever I worked on a commercial project the descriptors clients sent me for photos were often things along the lines of “energetic”, “bright”, “excited” or “fantastic”.  

Last year, when I went freelance, I had a bit of a lull between projects during the winter and I took the time to experiment and just shoot for myself. With the winter gloom, I found myself drawn to darker edits and images than usual. When I got busy again, I incorporated some of my darker editing techniques into work projects. 

A bright photo can convey warmth, happiness or excitement. A darker image can convey thoughtfulness, closeness or calmness. These days, I work to match the tone of the image to the feeling of the moment.  

Emotion 

Often I think that I would make a terrible photography mentor because I try to find the beauty and magic in each photo, which makes it very difficult to provide constructive feedback. I do, though, have one major pet peeve, which is emotionless photos. Blank stares, grim faces and bored expressions don’t make for captivating images in my opinion. 

I always work to build a rapport with whoever I’m photographing and then I try to get out of the way and capture the genuine expressions and moments of the day.