(..if I bought an Airstream and traveled the country, where would I want to camp the most? Hmmmm…)
Everybody has their own style. Whether it’s clothing choice or the way somebody presents themself, it’s all about creating an image. Every person in the creative world does this with their work. Everybody wants to create an image. They want to leave their mark on the world. But everybody sees the world differently. So how does somebody share their perspective of the world around them?
When I first started photography, I tried a lot of different things. I tried finding my perspective. I would use my days off from work as an opportunity to take my phone or DSLR camera and try finding moments throughout my day that were worth capturing.
Just a simple search on the internet or Instagram will show you different photos from millions of different people. And if you were doing this search, you’d see so many different kinds of photos. Of course, the location and subject of the picture will be different. But what happens when two people take pictures of the same thing?
I had a friend of mine send me a picture a few years ago. I don’t remember who the photographer was, but she told me it looked like the type of photo I would take. And regardless of whether or not that was a good thing, I was very flattered. That meant I succeeded in creating my own visual style; I had found a look that I was comfortable with.
I feel like I can only write so much about this, though. Instead, I’m going to show a couple photos below and explain my thought process of how I approached the picture. Hopefully this can help shed some perspective on my thought process, along with how it impacts yours when taking photos.
So I currently shoot with three lenses. I have an 8-15mm wide angle lens, 24-70mm mid-range lens, and a 70-200mm zoom lens. Of those three lenses, 80% of the time, I have the 70-200mm attached. That percentage stays true for weddings as well. The wedding day is one of the most (if not THE most) intimate days for a couple. I shoot my usual wide shots of family and friends. I’ll do wide shots walking down the aisle as well. But when it comes time to put on those rings, or give that first kiss as a married couple, I like to get as close as possible. To me, tighter, or closer shots, produce more intimacy. It shows you a perspective that you, as the audience attending the event, don’t really get a chance to see. Most of my event photography follows that rule. I don’t like to shoot photos that give you the same perspective as an audience member. If I can show a unique perspective, it helps me feel like I have more to give than just photos.
Okay so this photo is kind of wild just by the nature of what it is, but it still follows the guidelines of what I want my style to be. A couple years ago, I drove down to South Carolina with some friends and took photos of a total solar eclipse. When the moon passes in front of the sun, it creates this really beautiful glowing ring called a corona. While I have some shots of the glowing ring, I like this shot the most. The moon isn’t fully in front of the sun at this point, so it’s more of a mix between the shining sun and partial eclipse. During this period, the camera captured an array of colors in the clouds, which I feel added to the atmosphere of the picture and gave it a more dramatic look. The photo had to be slightly cropped because 200mm still wasn’t enough zoom to fill the frame.
I’ve been doing food photography for a while. In fact, taking pictures of food was the first time I got paid for photography. Food and drink photography can sometimes be tricky. Unless you have lots of resources, you’re pretty much at the mercy of the lighting in the restaurant. When I arrive at a restaurant, the first thing I do is walk around and check out the environment. Is there natural light by windows? Natural light brings out the clearest and most vivid colors in food. Are there overhead lamps in the background that could provide out of focus bokeh? Are there a lot of people around? All these things go into consideration while I walk around.
With the shot above at Half Moon Point in Point Pleasant. it was opening night and there were plenty of people around. I decided to include shots with people, but keep them out of focus so they provided a bustling atmosphere without anybody being able to recognize faces. There was a window in the background and it was around sunset, so the light was shining right into the dining room. I decided to place the wine glass on the bar, in the path of the light. This created some backlighting as the light passed through the glass, showing off that color of the red wine. The amount of wine in the glass was sheer luck that it lined up with the words “Half Moon Point”, but I think it was perfect in guiding eyes to the text. I lowered the exposure (or the brightness) of the image to give it more of a dark bar vibe and to match the atmosphere of what was in front of me.
This was one of those moments where I knew what I wanted in my head from the start. My friend and I had flown to LA and rented a convertible Mustang. We were driving around Laguna Beach and the sun started setting. California sunsets really are beautiful. I thought this was the perfect opportunity. We pulled over and I sat in the back seat with my wide angle 8-15mm lens. Once he started driving, I started taking some practice shots. I lowered the shutter speed on the camera. This makes anything that’s moving blur when I take the photo. Because I was staying still in relation to the car, the scenery around us started blurring while leaving the Mustang looking clear. I just rattled off a couple shots as we were driving into the sunset and this ended up being one of my favorites.
This one takes a little bit of everything I mentioned about the earlier photos and blends them all together. It was sunset at a park and there was a nice glowing light across the grass. I decided to lay down on the ground and point my 70-200 lens at the grass. The lens has really tight depth of field so it allowed me to keep about an inch thick of grass in focus while blurring everything else. Because the light was shining into the camera lens, it created some lens flares. I typically like taking warm photos and this photo embodies why.
So I hope these photos helped shed some light into my creative process. I tend to like my photos vivid and colorful. I like looking for new perspectives. I like getting in close and looking at all the little details. As I continue to post more, I’m sure that my style will start to become more and more apparent. It’s not for everyone, but I can say it’s 100% me.
Between work and side projects, it’s been trickier lately to post more frequently. I’ve been working on some articles detailing tips and tricks for using cameras so stay tuned for some of those. If you’re reading along and want me to cover something specific, feel free to drop a comment below!
Thanks for reading!