During the course of my 28-year photo career I’ve learned a lot from simply watching great movies, but watching great movies alone isn’t enough. You have to practice once you’ve been exposed to new information. We all love watching movies, and today I’d like to share an exercise you can do after watching a classic movie to become a better photographer.
I shoot fashion/beauty and commercial portraits but regardless of the type of photography you enjoy shooting, this exercise will help you to become a better photographer. The goal of the exercise is to help you see and understand light and composition, but you’ll also learn how these two elements work hand in hand to create powerful images.
This year is the 50th anniversary of a great classic movie that I hope many of you have seen at some point in your life. This classic film is also the perfect teaching tool for photographers. For this exercise I’d like you to watch the first hour of "The Sound of Music", but with the sound muted so can you focus only on the visual elements of the film.
The movie opens by using powerful landscapes and cityscapes, and as photographers we too can use supporting elements when taking portraits, weddings, or fashion and beauty pictures to make our feature images more powerful.
After the opening series of images you’ll see the nuns start to walk into the Abbey. The shot is taken from above. Take nothing for granted as you look at this scenes composition. Now practice taking your next photograph from different angles; maybe one from a high angle over your subject and another version taken from a low angle. When you have a mix of different points of view in your photographs your photos become more interesting and it gives your body of work a stronger statement. In the same notice the placement of the nuns’ with white hoods and where they are in relationship to the black hoods. Nothing is an accident in this image as it is all directed to be visually appealing.
The next scene deals with light and shadow, or the absence of light. As the nuns walk into the Abbey they are walking directly towards the camera. At the end of this cut, two nuns walk right into the camera, (or it appears so.) The next cut the scenes switches to a darker shot showing the nuns’ from the back as they are now inside and taking their seats. The transition from light to backlight is a powerful tool to use in still photography. Try shooting your next images using front light and then letting your subjects become silhouettes using backlight. Once you master using this you will enjoy photography even more as you make more powerful images.
Feel free to post your comments on Twitter using the hash tag #Soundofmusic and follow me at @Matthew_JordanS
A Unique Opportunity: Go beyond this exercise and join me in the Bahamas as I turn this exercise into an incredible fashion story. Part 1 and part II of the Matthew Jordan Smith Fashion Photography Workshop will show you how to turn a classic film into a one-of-a-kind fashion story.
In part 1, you will learn how to plan, produce and create a fashion story. These principles will help you in every field of photography, from portraits to weddings and more. Part 1 of the workshop is focused on shooting a beautiful model in studio and you will learn how to use studio lights to make powerful graphic images based on the workshop theme. You’ll learn how to use constant lights and strobe lights. You’ll learn how to use a light meter and how to direct your models to get the best images possible. In part two, we will focus on working on location. You will take our model outside to shoot the location elements for your story and you’ll learn how to work on location with lights, an amazing model and a crew. By the end of this incredible workshop you will have a fantastic fashion story and become more confident in making more powerful photographs. Sign up soon as seats are limited.