It can be overwhelming to arrive at a beautiful landscape to make pictures, or to a portrait shoot and be faced with making great pictures on demand. When I make portraits for a client, I have to deliver or there’s no food on the table — how’s that for pressure?
Sometimes I see a good picture and I get excited about making it. I take some time to get it all set and it turns out just right and I love it. But if I leave it at that, then I’ve just spent all that time finessing the situation and walked away with only one good image.
Instead, I’ve learned that thinking like a filmmaker is a much smarter way to go. Filmmakers are always thinking about a wide shot, a middle shot, and a tight shot. So, once I’ve got the approximate pose in place, and I’ve got the light ready to roll, I can maximize the setup by making several pictures and asking myself, “Did I get the wide, middle and tight?”
This isn’t just for portraits. When you shoot a landscape, don’t forget to get the close-up stuff. Photograph the mountain, then shoot the tree, then shoot the pine cones on the branches.
Here’s a bonus. Most photographers are guilty of not getting close enough to their subjects. Thus, besides my wide, middle and tight shots, I also get some tighter shots. These usually end up being my favorites. This is a close up of her face, but it could easily be her hands tying her slippers, or brushing her hair back, or a bug on the bark of the tree, or a corner of the pine cone with needles. Just get tighter.
Make this a mantra — “Wide, Middle, Tight, Tighter” — and you’ll end up with a richer portfolio from every shoot.
Now that I’ve got those basic shots under the belt, I can do something else — make a new pose, a new location, a new light setup. After making the above pictures, I beamed them over to my iPad (I love Panasonic micro four-thirds cameras and their app!) and reviewed them with my subject and her mom. While we were looking at them I noticed the breeze blowing wisps across the girl’s face and I got another idea. Since I was covered with my wide, middle, tight and tighter shots, I was free to create something new, so we walked to a different spot in the parking lot, and photographed this: