Often times, a photograph goes beyond technique

Post and Photos by Rick Sammon. Follow Rick on Twitter.

“I don’t think, I feel.” That what Keith Richards said about playing guitar on stage in “Shine The Light,” the Martin Scorsese film about The Rolling Stones’ performance at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. The film is a must-see, in my book!

I like that philosophy, and have thought about photography the same way for years. I believe that a photographer must know exactly what all the buttons, knobs, dials and settings do on a camera so that when he or she sees a shot, the process becomes more about feeling than thinking about technical side of photography – which must become second nature.

In this article, I thought I share a few of my favorite photo philosophies about feelings and photography that I have gathered over the years. So sit back and don’t think about RAW vs. JPEG, white balance, ISO settings, etc. Rather, think about the feel of a photograph

The Camera Looks Both Ways – In Picturing the Subject, You are Also Picturing a Part of Yourself.

When it comes to photographing people, the most important photo tip I can share with you is this: “The camera looks both ways – in picturing the subject, we are also picturing a part of ourselves.”

“Every picture is a self portrait” is another way of conveying that point. Let me explain.
When you are looking through your camera’s viewfinder, viewing and framing a subject, if you realize that the feeling, the emotion, the attitude and the energy that you project will be reflected in your subject’s face – and eyes – you’ll get a higher percentage of pictures that you like. That’s because by your actions, you are subconsciously “directing” the subject to mirror the way you feel.

In looking at this picture of the Buddhist monk, I don’t have to tell you how I was feeling at the moment when I snapped the shutter. Well, even though I don’t have to tell you – it was a feeling a great respect.

Make Picture, Don’t Just Take Pictures

Rather than simply taking pictures – pointing you camera, composing the scene, setting the exposure and focus – take your time and make pictures. Arrange the scene, use pops, position the subject, use lighting accessories, etc. Creating a feeling.
Making pictures is not only fun, it’s part of the creative photography process. When you take control, you become the director of the shoot, just as a movie director takes control of the scenes he or she shoots.

Be Aware of Body Language

Sometimes we get so caught up in the technical aspects of photographing people and their facial expression that we forget two other important aspects of people photography: how body language affects how we feel about the subject. Watch the hands, arms, angle of the head, etc.

Portrait vs. Environmental Portrait

Basically, when you take pictures of a person, you have two choices. You can choose to take a portrait (head/head-and-shoulders shot) or an environmental portrait, that is, a picture that shows the subject in his or her environment. Both types of portraits can be effective, and I often photograph a subject both ways.


Be Yourself – Enjoy the Moment

I am sure you have hard the expression, “Stop and smell the roses.” When it comes to photography, we need to keep that expression in mind. We need to totally enjoy the moment. However, that usually comes when we have a total and complete understanding of our cameras – so much so that we don’t have to think about the technical side of the creative process (as I mention and as Keith Richards suggests).

I feel that this picture of school children in Lombok, Indonesia helps to convey that point, which is basically to have fun and to enjoy the moment.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

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