2019 has just begun, and it is time to wrap up and look back at 2018. Like last year, I have found my favorite photos, and what they have in common are strong compositions.
Reviewing your own photos can teach you a lot about your shooting style, but also what conditions work for making photos you relate to yourself. We all know that the golden hour delivers the best light and therefore, the best photos, or does it? Going through my favorite photos of 2018 was hard and surprising. The biggest surprise to me was how I only had four out of 16 photos that benefited from the golden hour light. I had equally many that were taken in broad daylight.
Most of the photos, however, do benefit from a “special” kind of light. Whether they are bright and dramatic or calm and moody, the light did play an important role to create contrast and shape in the photos.
What also played an important role was interesting weather. This obviously goes hand in hand with light and clouds helped a lot in shaping the light of the scene.
Sometimes, the weather just delivered relatively flat light, and the subject and composition had to do all the work to make the photo work. Sometimes, flat light is actually preferable.
That is actually an important realization. You can have interesting weather and you can have gorgeous light, but if you do not have an interesting subject and composition, you might as well trash the photo.
How I Normally Build Up a Photo
There are many ways to approach composition. How I go about it is to find an interesting subject or object I want to photograph that can work as the focal point. This could be a tree, mountain, house, or whatever you find interesting.
Depending on the subject being near or far away, I create depth in the photo by adding some foreground interest or an interesting background. The foreground can either be a subject in itself or something that creates leading lines or visual flow leading into the scene and focal point.
From here, I try my best to balance the scene. If I place my focal point in the upper left part of the photo, I can balance it out by placing the foreground in the lower right. I could also line up the foreground and background and make a strong central composition.
The last thing is to make sure my edges are clean. Clutter along the edges can often distract from the focal point. If I cannot do this in the field, I normally get rid of edge clutter in post-processing.
Even though I normally approach a scene or subject like this, it is always interesting when I have to break away from that way of thinking. I had to do that on a few occasions in 2018, and some of these photos made it into my favorites.
Check out the videos where I analyze 16 of my favorite photos from 2018 and talk about the compositions.
Have you gone through and analyzed your photos from 2018? What did you learn? Share your thoughts down below.