Saturday, October 18, 2008


I have nothing against choirs. I have sung in my share of them, attended concerts by many excellent choirs, and enjoyed recording or providing sound reinforcement for still others. But as much as I love music, I have this thing about liking to hear the lyrics. And often the lyrics are just a little hard for me to sort out in choir music, especially when the choir is singing Schubert's Mass in G, or some Bach classic in German. No, I must confess to appreciating solos. I love to hear that soprano or baritone voice lifted above the choir, boldly standing out from the crowd, yet fitting in all the same.

There's a very simple principle good photographers tend to practice—one that would seem so obvious it shouldn't need to be mentioned. But it is amazing how frequently photos are taken without recognizing it. The principle is simply this.

Decide what it is you are taking a picture of.

Is it a flower, a small group of flowers, a pattern, a door, a smile? What is it. Here's what happens. We find ourselves in a beautiful place, or looking at a breathtaking scene, and so we feel compelled to take a picture, not
realizing that the whole of the experience is too grand, encompasses too many senses, and covers too great an area to be confined to a snapshot.
Before taking that picture, take a moment to answer the question, in a word if possible, "What is it I am taking a picture of?"

Then it is up to you to use your relationship to the subject, the light you have available or can manipulate, the settings on your camera, and even the position of the subject in the frame to ensure that the person who views your photo has no doubt what it was that you were photographing.

If what you are photographing is a choir or, let's say, a field of flowers, fine. But consider the impact of photographing the soloist, with the choir there for backup. There's no doubt where your eyes are going to go: directly to the subject.

Aah... I think I'm hearing the music and the lyrics.


Lisa said...

I'll keep that in mind. I am guilty of wanting to capture everything, no to leave anything out. Thanks for the tip.

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