I think I’ve begun to broaden my idea of perspective. While it’s true the above will always remain the artistic heart of perspective, I’m starting to realize that perspective is not only the angle from which you take your photograph but also HOW you approach taking pictures altogether. We’ve all run across obstacles in picture-taking. Take these scenarios for example: the sky is cloudy or overcast, it’s high-noon and there is too much sun, we are in a shaded area and there isn’t enough sun, a cluttered background, a moving subject, the subject is rundown, rusty, falling apart and ugly, the subject is stoic, sterile, hard, and void of any color; all these situations and descriptions can add up to a “non-shot” for most of us depending on what we set out to shoot. May I suggest that when we are faced with what we perceive as an obstacle and are ready to give up, it’s probably time to change our perspective.
When I received my first digital camera for the purpose of taking pictures as an avenue of creative expression I was disappointed with what I perceived to be its limitations. It was a very basic camera with only a few bells and whistles. I had much grander ideas about the camera I should be using. But it was given to me as a gift. I couldn’t really let on how I felt about it, so I begrudgingly accepted it as my lot in life. However, as time went by, I learned that the obstacles of that camera were actually opportunities. And while I was dreaming of a better camera “someday” that camera was honing my powers of observation and I was learning to use the camera’s strengths to my advantage. It all came down to my perspective.
Now I review the obstacles as a series of questions rather than reasons why I can’t take a picture. Does the lighting have to be perfect for the shot I imagined or is there a picture of a different sort somewhere in this scene? Is the movement of this subject something that ICM (intentional camera motion) or some other technique like it that would accentuate and help to create interest in this subject? Does every shot have to be realistic? Is what I’m looking at an abstract in the making? Why does beautiful always have to be defined as pristine and perfect? Is there beauty in decay? If the “big picture” is not engaging, is there something else in the scene that deserves my attention? I truly believe there is always a picture to take- if I’m willing to take the time to observe my surroundings and look for it. It all comes down to my perspective.
When my children were growing up we had a book called Take Another Look. It was written by Tana Hoban and was illustrated with a series of pictures. Each page had an overlay that blocked out most of the picture and the children were challenged to guess at what objects those macro portions belonged to. Even when they knew the answers, they loved looking at the minute details those first pages revealed before they saw the overall picture. Whether you’re looking at perspective as a matter of vantage point, the way you approach taking photographs or how you express your feelings photographically about your subject, perspective is an important building block in your photography. So if you find yourself faced with an “obstacle”, take another look. It’s probably an opportunity for a great shot. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Ann H. LeFevre
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