Fundamentals of Being A Great Photographer - From Ordinary To Extraordinary

Over the many years I pursued my art and photography passion, I received this same question repeatedly: "what camera do you use?"   While camera is important and an indispensable tool to create a photo, it is often overrated when it comes to create a great photograph.

So today I'd like to share the fundamentals of being a great photographer.

I know we talked about being in the right place at the right time, but the hardest part of photography is to create the extraordinary from the ordinary. This is exactly the most important thing we need to learn.

For example when you are facing a wide open field (no matter if it's a farm, an ocean, a lake, a forest or a big wide street), if you pull out a camera and take a snapshot, you might just get a blank dull image.  But if you can find and walk up closer to something interesting, no matter it's a rock, a hay bale, a street pole, a car (see the above video), and put that subject as the foreground, while placing your wide open field in the background, you will come up with a completely different image.   All of a sudden your image has a different story to tell and draws people's attention to something you focus on in the foreground.

It's like how we play in the world, you can either be an onlooker, or immerse yourself into the reality and be a part of it. There's no right or wrong answer how you create an image. But whatever you create is unique to you. Photography is indeed a language, and the way you create an image very much tells people who you are, and how you see the world.

I'd like to share my favorite quote from a great photographer.

To me photography is an art of observation.  It’s all about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.  I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see, and everything to do with the way you see them.
— Elliott Erwitt

To give a clear explanation, you can compare the following images.

Sample 1

Open wide field sample below

Day 51 - Fort Pierre National Grassland-002

Day 51 - Fort Pierre National Grassland-002

Use a hay bale as the foreground, and use the open wide field as the background

Day 51 - Fort Pierre National Grassland-005

Day 51 - Fort Pierre National Grassland-005

Sample 2

Another example.  A open wide view of a lake or river

Day 51 - Missouri River at Oacoma SD-001

Day 51 - Missouri River at Oacoma SD-001

Add the rocks as the foreground, use the lake as the background

Day 51 - Missouri River at Oacoma SD-011

Day 51 - Missouri River at Oacoma SD-011

Sample 3

This is another lake example.  Nothing is in front of the lake so the lake itself is the foreground.

Day 38 - Jenny Lake-007

Day 38 - Jenny Lake-007

Here I added a tree root lying on the shore as the foreground, using the lake as the background.  They look very different now.

Day 38 - Jenny Lake-002

Day 38 - Jenny Lake-002

 

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