what is the subject?

what is the subject

I find myself mindlessly scrolling through people’s blog posts and looking at their pictures, catching a line or two of text if the pictures look interesting. I don’t think that is going to change to be honest but I thought it was a good metaphor for how we even look at pictures sometimes and therefore how we take pictures.

Point, click, done.

Without trying to sound pompous, taking pictures on film (with only 24-36 frames) really makes you slow down and think before you shoot. What is the subject? What do I want to highlight? I don’t always get it right but I get a good ratio of decent to throw away pictures on a roll of film. But when I shoot on digital that ratio widens. I don’t focus on the subject all the time. Clutter gets in and I ignore the rules of composition. Now sometimes the rules need to be broken but a vast history of art exists which show us the rules work. They lead the eye, grab our attention, create an atmosphere.

I thought I might share some tips on composition over the next while if people are interested (so let me know if you are interested by commenting).

But today’s post is just to remind you to start thinking about the subject. Sometimes it is obvious. A person or a group of people, a vase of flowers. Sometimes it is less obvious. Sometimes you zoom in on the flowers – now which one is the subject, the one tilting it’s head. Or what about when you are shooting a landscape. Sometimes it is the castle on the hill but maybe it is just a beautiful scene. Even then a picture becomes more interesting and people look more intently when something captures the eye. A lone tree, a bench or a person in the distance. Even when the subject is a ‘scene’, being aware of what you want to highlight helps you to frame the picture, consider focal point and use compositional rules to lead the eye.

By being conscious of choosing your subject you can instantly start taking better photos.

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy these tips for composing better images and an exercise in light.

2 thoughts on “what is the subject?

  1. Totally agree Michelle! My first ever photography teacher showed me to look very carefully at what’s in the frame before pushing the shutter (we were using film) and make sure that random drainpipe/piece of rubbish/whatever in the background doesn’t make the shot. It’s really stuck with me, but sometimes I still take a shot and later wish I’d taken time to compose more carefully. There’s always photoshop, but frankly I can’t usually be bothered! I’d love to see some more of your composition tips here : )

    1. I wonder how different my photography would be now if I had started with film. And thanks for letting me know you’d be interested in some composition tips 😉

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