How to Get a Whole New Perspective on Photography

Near Pine Meadow Lake in Harriman State Park

Near Pine Meadow Lake by Richard Lewis 2015

Storm on Pine Meadow Lake by Richard Lewis

Storm on Pine Meadow Lake by Richard Lewis 2015

The ease of using digital cameras and modern travel are allowing more people to go to the great places and create beautiful landscape images. As a result, there are now an overwhelming number of great landscape photographs.

The problem… it’s becoming harder to distinguish the work of one photographer from another. I’ve seen places like  Zabriskie Point in Death Valley at sunrise packed with photographers lined up to create the same photograph. How does one differentiate from the crowd? The solution is to make the photograph no one else is making. It means seeing differently. That might mean finding places no one else is going or photographing the popular places in a completely different way.

I pondered this recently during a hike in Harriman State Park in New York. While slogging through the snow and admiring the wonderful winter landscape this what was going through my mind.

  1. Photographic quantity is not the goal. Scout out an area and find the best photograph to create. Spend the time needed to make it great.
  2. Dwell on composition–a lot. Don’t just photograph a pretty scene, find the lines and form that make the structure of that scene wonderful.
  3. Go where no one else is. The hike to Pine Meadow Lake on a nice day is very popular and relatively easy. Even with 2 feet of snow on the ground I was surprised to see a fair number of hearty hikers, but I was the only one doing serious photography.
  4. Shoot in adverse weather. Snow was falling during most of the hike. I made the second photograph when the snowfall was heavy which created an interesting natural texture across the lake.
  5. Think about how you will process the image as you are creating it. Having an idea of what the final image will look like helps you frame and compose the original to create a better photograph.
  6. Look at the whole image. The masters will tell you to pay attention to the corners of the view finder, not just the center. On a cold and windy day it is natural to work quickly, but speed can cause you to neglect looking at the entire image and not take the time to compose something that works well and is free of distracting elements.

We are living in a time when a million photographs are taken each day. It has never been easier to create a good one and never been harder to create a unique one.


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