I photograph natural subjects without manipulation when possible, but there are many instances when it is necessary to control a situation to show a subject in an artistic and beautiful light. Indeed, many times it is necessary to manage a subject specifically to make it look natural in the photo. Technical and practical issues are often present that make it virtually impossible to take the kinds of pictures we really want to take and that we can see with our eyes.
Below is a list of my ten favorite places to photograph in the world. There are still many places that I haven’t been, and even though I’ve been to 83 countries, as of the spring of 2010, I feel like I have hardly scratched the surface. There are so many wonderful places to shoot that in ten life times a photographer would still feel he or she needed more time. All of the places on this list offer such rich photographic experiences that you could return again and again and produce a different body of work each time. They never get old.
A word that is often associated with wide angle lenses is “distortion.” It is true that wide angles distort what we see, but that’s not necessarily bad. In fact, it can work to our advantage. Photographers who like to capture what they see—or as close to it as possible—shy away from wide angle lens particularly those that are extreme—say wider than 20mm. This is especially true for portraiture, where exaggerated and distorted faces and bodies may not go over very well with the subject. However, as an artist you should have all the tools and techniques at your disposal to create dynamic images, and I would like to suggest that if you have not explored the creative potential for shooting people with wide angle lenses, it’s time you try it.
If your primary goal on a trip is to photograph animals, say on a safari or “eco-tour,” this changes your approach to photography quite a bit. You have to think about many things that don’t apply to other types of travel work.
Photographers love telephoto lenses. We can’t always get close to the subjects we want to shoot, and a telephoto lens allows us to fill a significant part of the frame with them. That makes a picture with a lot of visual impact. Virtually all subjects are dramatized by the use of a telephoto—wildlife, children, sports, nature, architectural design, flowers, and more.
Shooting in a studio intimidates a lot of photographers, but the truth is it’s not hard at all. There are a few basic lighting configurations to learn, and with the immediate feedback from the LCD monitor on the back of the camera, you can see immediately if you have the lighting, the pose, and the expression you want. In addition, you don’t need a huge space and it’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on lighting equipment. You can even set up a mini-studio with a $10 photoflood and a background with a white wall or a piece of black fabric.
Monochromatic color themes have been around since the inception of photography. Toning black and white prints with a sepia toner was begun at a time when photographers could only dream of color. The noxious fumes made the darkroom work memorable, to say the least. With digital technology, we can get the same look of a toned print. When I first started learning Photoshop, I translated my knowledge of the darkroom into the digital world. In other words, I learned how to create in the computer the same effects that I had been creating in the darkroom.
One of the ways to draw attention to a subject is to find—or set up—brightly colored objects in an environment of a muted or earth-toned background. The eye is immediately drawn to color, and this is a poignant way to make a powerful and dynamic visual statement.
Photographing subjects with outrageous combinations of colors is a lot of fun. As great as complementary colors are, and as pleasing as subtlety and mood are, there’s nothing quite like color combinations that virtually knock your eyeballs out of their sockets! Combinations like orange and lime green, deep purple and red, and orange and magenta are extremely potent in drawing attention. Sometimes these juxtapositions of color are found in nature (surprisingly enough) but often they can only be found in man-made objects. One of the reasons I love photographing festivals is because the costuming is frequently shocking and outlandish.
Combining color with black and white is a way to focus attention on a subject or one aspect of a picture. This is similar to throwing a background out of focus so our concentration is directed to the in-focus part of an image, or placing a black background behind something so we have nothing else to look at except the subject. You make one area of a picture color and convert the rest of it to black and white, and it is a very unique way to direct a viewer’s attention where you want it.