Thursday, May 2, 2013


I just taught a photography class two nights ago.  The title of the class was 'How to Shoot a Publishable Photo.'  In other words, how to shoot a photo that a photo journalist would have a chance to have accepted by a newspaper, magazine, website, stock photo site, etc.  Here is my definition of a 'publishable photo':  A photo that catches (grabs) the viewer's attention, tells a story or is relevant to the main objective of the story, and will entice the viewer to stay and read the story.  Usually one looks at the photo that accompanies a story before reading the story, so the photo plays a critical part in whether the viewer will actually continue to read the story.  This means that the photo must be different, eye catching, or unusual in some way that will attract attention.  

This isn't only important for photo journalism, it is important for most photos in order to be really good photos.  In other words, the photo must have something unique that makes the viewer want to stay and look longer.

Lets talk about flowers and sunsets, for example.  They are beautiful and colorful and often photographers can't resist shooting them.  But they are so commonly photographed that to take a photo of a flower or sunset that really stands out from the millions of photos of these subjects, the photographer has to get his creative juices flowing.  

Creating a unique photo can be achieved in many ways such as with composition, lighting, mood, perspective, depth of field, etc.  The possibilities are endless but the photographer must take the time to think about how to accomplish this before she clicks the shutter.

Like many photographers, I can't resist taking photos of flowers.  I have hundreds (thousands) of them and part of the joy of photographing them is just seeing and enjoying such beauty.  But how do I try to make my flower photos stand out?  There are many ways, as I mentioned above, but two of my favorites that serve me well are as follows:

1.  Literally, get down close and shoot sideways or up Most people look down on flowers from a standing position.  They rarely look at a flower from ground level up.  The most interesting photos you will take will be the ones where you hold your camera either four feet above or four feet below your eye level.  I can't remember who said this or something similar to this, but it is so true!

2.  Use a narrow depth of field and a wide angle lens up close, to emphasis your flower focal point.  Once again, people viewing a flower garden from a standing position, see a mass of color and shapes, all competing for attention.  They don't see the details of one flower that stands out from the rest.

The photo above and the two below were taking several days ago on Temple Square and demonstrate these techniques.  Of course, these are not the only techniques to use to create good flower photos, but they might give you some ideas about how to make your own flower photos more interesting.