Compose with your heart rather than your head
Challenge yourself to approach a new scene without preconceptions on how it should be photographed
Here’s a true story: a landscape photographer was running a workshop and one of the attendees mentioned that he didn’t like a certain location because there wasn’t much foreground interest. Now, this was a spectacular spot (Dartmoor in Devon), but rather than attempting to capture the scene in all its unique rugged beauty, the learner concluded that a landscape photo must fit certain criteria to be any good, whether or not those criteria reflect the landscape in front of them.
There’s nothing wrong with foreground interest, but it shouldn’t necessarily be the default. The point is, it’s easy to fall into a routine, to begin a shoot with a checklist: sunset – check; foreground interest – check; tripod – check; f/16 and ISO100 – check; and so on. Of course, many of these conventions will lead to great photography (and yes, we hear you scream, photography magazines are just as culpable as anything else for pushing them on us), but if we follow the same routine every time, there’s a danger that all our photos will look very similar, and ultimately not all that original.
So next time you’re out shooting, whatever the subject may be, stop for a moment and think of a way to capture it that you haven’t tried before. It might be something as simple as cropping out the sky like in this scene, or shooting it with a different lens, changing your usual settings, or trying an unusual angle. The results may be great and they may be awful, but at the very least, they’ll be unexpected.