Copyright Scott Bourne 2009 – All Rights Reserved

When you’re trying to set up a photograph, one question you might want to ask yourself is: “What sort of mood do I want to set with this image?” Mood is an often overlooked, but it’s a very important key to designing a meaningful image.

One of the moods I like to design into my photographs is tranquility. We live busy lives in an even busier world. Our choice of drive through menus is very long as is our selection of cable television channels and satellite radio networks. With all the noise that is out there, I like to design photographs that are peaceful and tranquil.

Now that I know what I am looking for, the next step is how to go about executing on the idea.

Since not everyone will agree on what’s “tranquil” I can only work with my own ideas and hope others agree. If they don’t, well that’s okay. It’s a big world. They can find tranquility wherever they like. I don’t spend much time thinking about what everyone else will like. If I did, I’d be making their photograph – not mine. So I concentrate on my own vision.

When working for a tranquil mood, you want the right subject, colors, background and any other element that might lend themselves to peaceful thought.

Here, I used a bird. Birds are graceful and lend themselves to thoughts of tranquility because of their ability to fly and soar. Next, I waited for a blue background. Blue is a calming color – at least for me – so I combined a super clean, smooth background (in the form of the pond) with the color blue to set the scene. Last, I relied on an old friend – reflection. Reflections are by their vary nature claiming to most people. By combining all these things together, I think I designed a pretty tranquil image. It’s one that I look at when I need rest. It makes me remember the calm, quiet morning I spent by the water’s edge near my condo in Fort Myers Beach that winter morning. Sometimes the memory of that experience – i.e., making the photograph, is so powerful a force for me that it can actually make me happy.

Whatever mood you’re trying to set in your photographs, remember that the images which are formed first in your mind’s eye, and then captured – often become the most pleasing and successful photographs. This is the difference between taking pictures and making pictures.


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