Sometimes the concept of a photo is good, the execution is fine, but the photo just isn’t that great. As a photographer or a photography lover you can immediately tell when an image is missing that extra something… but you can’t always tell exactly what that something is.
We’ve all been there, so here are 5 ideas to play around with that might just end that frustration and help you find the X factor you’ve been searching for in your photos!
Every image needs a focus, but what if that focus was obscured by something else? Magritte’s famous painting The Son of Man is a perfect example of a picture with that extra something – okay, it’s a painting, but there’s nothing to say this technique can’t translate across to your photos too. If you have a person as the focus of your image, try placing something in front of their head, their hand, their body, and see what extra factor that object brings to the photo. If the focus is an object, maybe someone could be getting in the way of our view of that object. The more thought goes in to what is obscuring our view and why, the more dimension you could be adding to your photo.
Following on from idea number one, creating a false or forced perspective could also be the thing that gives your photo an edge. Playing with what your audience sees, and forcing them to see something which in reality is an illusion, could result in your photo being a little more playful, clever or sinister, depending on the execution.
One of the most common ways this is done is seen in almost every holiday photo album – have you ever stood in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, maybe a mountain or skyline, and made it seem as though you’re holding it up, touching the top or leaning against it? That’s a forced perspective.
But when you don’t have an Eiffel Tower handy, this could be achieved by rotating your photo and suddenly tipping the world upside down, creating a focal point from a picture frame foreground placed in front of your background, or catching the moon in your hands and plucking it right out of the sky. There are endless ways to create a false perspective, and the more you experiment the more you’ll learn.
The make or break element of a photo can so often be something we take for granted – the lighting! We’ve all gone out hoping to take a beautiful shot of a rolling landscape and found ourselves stood in a muddy, cloudy field. On the other hand, we’ve all wanted a dark, atmospheric image of a gloomy forest and been disappointed with the bright sunshine and glossy green leaves. Lighting is everything.
Try flipping your lighting from above to below and build up a little atmosphere, or if you’re planning a portrait, move the lighting around someone’s face and play with the shadows you create. Move the light behind something and you create a silhouette; in front of them and they become overexposed. Your perfect lighting could be anywhere in between.