Subject, Subject, Subject
For me, the number one element that I am always on the lookout for is a strong subject.
Subject = Story and Drama.
Like a movie without a lead character, photos without a subject can often struggle for impact.
News photographers are some of the best when it comes to including a subject to help tell the story. It’s really no different for us landscape photographers as in its simplest form it is our job to tell compelling stories using just the photo itself without the use of words. If you can tell interesting/compelling stories without any narration, you will be well on your way to creating powerful high impact photography.
Of course, you can use words also, but in its simplest form, your photo should be able to tell its story without the aid of words.
The inclusion of a subject makes storytelling much easier. Regardless of whether the subject is a rock, tree, shack, or human, you now have an object to tell a story about or a perspective to tell your story from.
The inclusion of a subject helps add emotion/mood to your photos. Once again, even if the subject you choose is an inanimate object, your viewers will still be more likely to relate to that image by imagining themselves in the position of the main subject.
If this boat shed below had human feelings, could you imagine how it might be feeling?
Do you get the sense of Loneliness, Solitude, Isolation or maybe even a sense of depression?
By using this lonely boat shed, I have tried to tell a story of my very own struggles with anxiety and depression. Using the boat shed gave me a great subject to tell this story through.
Subject and Composition
As I mentioned, choosing to include a main subject often makes choosing your composition much easier.
Again, let’s use the above Boat Shed photo as an example. Once you have decided on the subject to photograph, it’s just a case of deciding where the pieces of the puzzle look best. In this example, I had a couple of choices.
The First: Did I want the jetty (leading lines) running straight down the centre? My answer almost always for jetty’s / roads or similar is YES!
The Second: Now that I know that I want the jetty in the centre, where do I want to place the subject? Again, I really only have a couple of choices: Bottom 1/3, Middle or top 1/3. Again on the day, I felt the middle was the best composition. Below are some other crop options though I think you will agree that the above composition is the strongest.
Subject and Simplicity
The issue with not having a subject, is that I often find myself trying to include too many details and I end up with a cluttered, confusing photo with a muddled story. By focusing in on a subject, I can leave out all the details that are not directly helping to tell the story and I end up with a much simpler, stronger photo. Almost always, less is better in photography.
By including a main subject in your photos, you will find that you begin to capture more simplistic, stronger, emotive photos with excellent compositions.
Until next time, try and include a strong subject in your photos and see if you like the inclusion.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!