Articles written by Jonathan Castner
Photography is all about time. It's the only visual art that is able to hold a single moment and fix it for our lasting consideration. To make that happen we as photographers must be keenly aware of both the slice of time that we are capturing and the all the time which leads up to that important moment. To do this well we must look into the future.
There is an old saying that "you only find what you are looking for." It's critical for any artist, including we photographers, to know what it is that we are working to create. To have a vision and stay true to it so that it will become a reality. When you go out with the intent of creating images you know what you want, right? You choose the location, the time of day, maybe the lighting, certainly the subject, and of course what gear that you need to bring it all together. We tend to be control freaks to make sure that we get what we want.
Including all of the person's head in your photograph is considered to be one of the basic rules of portraits. Clipping off the top of someone's head is considered a rookie mistake. However, I want you to consider taking a different approach to that old standard.
When you think of the elements of an image that make it successful and interesting most photographers immediately refer to the powers of color, form, texture, light/dark, and visual rhythm. There is another that is often overlooked: gesture. Unlike the other elements, gesture can't easily be preplanned into your composition; it's a fleeting thing. However, when you add in an interesting gesture to your frame, it's transformative.
One of the greatest challenges that we have as photographers is to try to show a three-dimensional world in only two dimensions. That missing dimension, depth, can only be implied. There are many ways to create a feeling of depth. Lighting and composition are two, but my favorite is using what I call dimensional framing.
I bet that you think that you are pretty good at composing your photos. You’ve been shooting for years, won some awards, nice client list. You got that part figured out. Guess what? Not only are you not “all that” but you really need to work on it. How am I so sure? Check this out.
When you look at the work of William Allard, David Harvey, or especially Alex Webb, you quickly notice what makes their photos so amazing is not just the lovely compositions and stunning moments, but an often dazzling use of natural light. What do they all have in common and how can we learn from them?