Armed with a plastic almost disposable camera at eight years old, I clicked the shutter at almost anything. Most of my pictures were blurred or over exposed. One day, I snapped a photo of ducks on a pond that impressed several grown-ups, who would say, “You have an eye for photography.” This was my first time hearing this phrase that unintentionally pierces at the heart of photography.
As photographers and everyone is a photographer, we need to develop our “Eye for photography.” Eye sight is defined as our visual perception of our surroundings contained in visible light. A photograph is simply capturing that perception to view or share in the future. We can begin to develop our “Eye” with these simple three steps.
1. Know Light
Understand light begins with seeing the world differently. A simple exercise will help you achieve this. You will need a flashlight (or other light source) and an egg. Slowly reposition the light around the egg. Notice how the appearance of the egg changes as the location of the light changes. Identify a few angles of light that you prefer, try taking a few pictures. Look around; see if you notice different shadows and degrees of light.
2. Use Light
Light can either be your friend or your foe. Are you using light or is light abusing you? A built in camera flash often produces flat images and annoying red eyes because the primary light source and camera angles are identical.
3. Follow Light
The angle of light is determined by the location of the light source, the camera and the subject. A better angle of light can typically be achieved by moving one of these three. Some quick fixes that can be helpful include having your subject move their head or body towards a light away from the camera. Additionally, on a sunny day, have your subject step into the shade to avoid the direct hard light of the sun. If you have a swivel on your flash, try moving the light source by bouncing your flash off a nearby wall.
As you begin to see the world differently, the heart of your photography will shine. Remember this next time you hear, “You have an Eye for Photography.”