When I was growing up, I was very fortunate that my family, which consisted of a mother, father, sister and me, were able to travel around, by car that is, no planes and few trains, and see not only the local sites, but regional and national as well.
Eventually my father got himself an 8mm movie camera to capture some of those places and happenings. They were silent at the time. No, this wasn’t during the silent film era but 8mm silent’s were an affordable way for normal families to record things, which included action and seeing something that was moving, actually move.
They were popular at the time, and it wasn’t long before Kmart style department stores began selling 50 or 200 foot versions of movie theater movies that had been transferred into that format. Neither the 50s or the 200s were long enough to actually show a full length film, but I found the shortened, silent version of movies, to be fun to watch.
When showing these small versions of real movies or those taken on our vacations, the brittle film would often break right in the middle of the show. My dad bought an editing machine. Manually operated, you could put a full reel on one side of the editor, and an empty one on the other side, and watch the film on a small screen. You could also take a piece of broken film and splice it back together. You could also cut a film where you chose. I began to contemplate the possibilities.
I began taking the department store movies I had bought, cutting them in places that I chose on the film editor, and either changing the location where they showed in the movie, or I spliced them into a different movie. I created films were a monster would suddenly appear in a Abbott and Costello film. Those alterations did not mean it was my movie, but now it had a little bit of me in that movie.
In my adult life as a photographer, I have stood side by side with ten photographers as we photographed a Snowy Owl, and got similar but definitely different images than the other nine image makers. Not only does a few inches to one side or another make for differences, but a different lens, and especially a different personal point of view, makes for different photos.
When we make images, the most important thing we can do, is “own it”. It‘s ours.
Not only does our personal tastes and photography habits matter, but with the angle of light striking any given subject, be it an animal or a flower, a mountain or a pond, the subject will have different characteristics from different photographers.
Own it, it’s yours.
I have known photographers who will do anything to avoid backlight. Backlight can indeed be difficult and there are times when avoidance is advised. By no means, is that at all times. At least for me.
The norm for photographers when they get in the viewfinder of their cameras, a new species of wildlife, is first and foremost get the images that show what that animal looks like. Makes sense. Most wildlife photographers I have known then look for telltale behavior. Also a good idea.
What about unusual behavior? Often that does not happen. What about in addition to those other things, more unusual views. How about, we go right into the subject? Make it personal. Of course this can also be accomplished after the fact by cropping. We need not always see, a ID book style view. Sometimes the eyes are important and the closer the better. Of course, if you choose not to, that’s okay too. Make it yours.
Wild Bighorn Sheep.
How often, do you see vertical actions shots of animals? Especially birds in flight. Once again this can be accomplished via cropping, although learning to shoot action vertically is a good skill to have. Who knows, maybe you will be the only vertical action photographer you know. Do things differently than others.
When I taught photography either through slide show presentations, or in the field, I would first often teach them to do what I did, but when given the time, I would request or at least suggest, that they think of unique ways that they may prefer. That often makes for unique images,
Snowy Owls, when they look into the blazing sun, will squint. Just like you and I.
Unusual body postures, and in this case with squinted eyes, make for pictures that are unique. They can become signature images. You only develop signature images, by making them “your own”.
Fall photography is always a pleasant and fulfilling experience. As many of you know, I love make straight up photos of a tree or of trees. A tree, or a bunch of trees, bathed in fall colors. Maybe sunny, maybe not. What about just trees ablaze in autumn, and blue skies. The warm toned trees and the cool blue sky will create a pleasing contrast that makes both tones and colors “pop”. There is no need, for more than colorful branches and pretty skies on order to make a photo.
I am not saying that I am the first or only photographer to create such pictures, only that do not fear seeing the way you see. Make it yours.
Inner forest pictures, regardless of season, need not be of an expanse of trees. If it pleases you, look down. I found that thick carpets of fallen leaves, pleased me. The large branch in this image, added a contrast and gave viewers a direction though the woodland. At least, it did so for me.
The subject of nature, need not be the only time you own your photos. Manmade, can still be interpreted as you see it.
This historic old lighthouse, was in my opinion photogenic and interesting,
The uniqueness, of visually tipping to our left the light tower, and by shooting more straight up and using an 18mm wide angle lens, intrigued me but was not what I wanted.
An image full of mainly tower, but one that fell short of tipping over, was what I saw when I really looked. The slight visual tip that still exists, prevented the picture from being so symmetrical that it was boring.
That was my vision, it was what I needed to do to “own my image”.
Look at your subjects from the inside as much as the outside.
Enjoy the wide variety of ways we look at things, own your own style, and let others do the same.
When I write about doing it our own way, I speak of photography and other creative endeavors. There is enough day to day selfishness in the world as is.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”