I look at the scene before me and can already see a thousand images flashing through my brain. A flip book of photographs like an endless Facebook feed scroll through my brain analysing the light, the clouds, the subject, the focus point, the depth of field, the motion of the water, the complexity of textures. But every single time the same thing happens, my brain fixates on an image I’ve seen before, a beautiful composition I’ve seen online or in a magazine, it’s such an obvious shot! But if it’s so obvious should I even bother? Or just download one off Google?
Seeing the world through creative glasses can be seem like a difficult thing for many people. I learnt my composition techniques when working in “video-land” filming corporate documentaries in Asia and the editors would always say “everything you film needs at least 3 angles so we can cut between them to create a scene”. I would often stare blankly at the subject of my shot, sometimes a person typing on the computer in front of me… but it’s so boring? How am I going to find 3 shots of this? Well after a bit of practice in situations where I wasn’t really given many options I developed the Third Time Lucky rule.
To this day, I still use this rule to try and make my photographs different from the person who photographed the same subject before me. It kind of goes like this:
Every subject deserves at least 3 photos.
This might sounds absolutely ridiculous but it actually forces you to think about plan B and plan C. It forces creativity and I normally label each step like this:
1 – The obvious shot
The standard tourist shot
2 – The “yeah this could work if I just moved over here a bit and zoomed in or out a little”
2. An attempt to get another element in
3 – The “this shot is absolutely not going to work out but if it did… well it could be kind of cool right?”
3. Almost touching the water to exaggerate the reflections.. nearly drowning my camera
Over the past number of years having taken thousands of photos at home and around the world this simple technique has forced me to look at the world differently. When you take away plan A and B and are forced to come up with a plan C you will be surprised where your mind takes you and more often than not this is the photo that makes the cut; thats what my workshops are all about. Sure we cover settings but more importantly, how can you see the world differently? How can you get the shot that no-one has? How can you put your own stamp on this location and create images that make people think!