Street Photography – advance composition techniques, Part II – Back to Basics

We had done a lot of research on how to impart our knowledge to participants of PMPE (PhotoMalaysia Photosafari Experience) Knowing how to shoot is one thing but coaching other people how to shoot is another. Most mentors would have taken the easier path…they would just show their students how good a photographer they are and hope that the students can emulated them.

Some have resorted to show students how to take a particular photo, camera settings and even the position to stand. Of course you will then have the whole class showing more or less the same photos from the same angle.

We have done a lot of brainstorming on how to make the students become better photographers. It is the “teaching how to fish as opposed to giving a fish” Of course, it is easier said than done.

Coming back to composition, I have drawn upon my earlier venture into drawing when I was a kid. We started with line drawings where we can place the subject anywhere on the canvas. We then draw in what background we want our subject to be in (like kampong, market or beach scene). The placement of the subject was always perfect because we draw it in. There was no cut off toes, hands, busy background, and people blocking the main subject or things that dilute the attention of the viewer.

However, when we come to photography, there were real life interferences. Things that were not meant to be in the picture somehow mysteriously appeared in the background after the photo were taken. Strange things grew out of the head of the subjects etc.   So what has gone wrong?  Why can’t we create the same image as in our drawing? The answer is control. The photographer needs to take control of his image the same way as he controls what goes into the drawing.

How do you take control of the image? Well, it is too short a space to talk about control. Furthermore you need to have hands-on practise to make it work. You can use this article as a seed for your thoughts or take the short cut version by joining our PMPE programs. We hope you enjoy this write-up

1. We start with an empty canvas and a line drawing

2. We add more details on the main subject

3. Next we add in the background.

4. Adding some shading to make it feel 3D

5. The black and white image

6. The color image

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