Free­man on…

Catch at­ten­tion in a shot by bring­ing to­gether un­ex­pected el­e­ments that some­how fit to­gether and fire the imag­i­na­tion

NPhoto - - Contents -

Co­in­ci­dences make your im­ages more in­ter­est­ing, so here are ways to cap­ture them

Al­most all suc­cess­ful pho­to­graphs con­tain an el­e­ment of sur­prise. It’s one of the most ba­sic strategies for pho­tog­ra­phy – shoot­ing an im­age that’s in some way dif­fer­ent from what most of the au­di­ence would ex­pect. You might say that the same ap­plies to any cre­ative medium, but for pho­tog­ra­phy it’s cru­cial, be­cause of the sheer num­bers of pho­tos slosh­ing about on the in­ter­net.

But are there ways to in­ject sur­prise into an im­age? There are ac­tu­ally sev­eral, but here for your con­sid­er­a­tion, as they say for the Academy Awards, is one so ut­terly sim­ple that it seems ob­vi­ous, when you think about it: co­in­ci­dence. Find­ing and show­ing a con­nec­tion be­tween two el­e­ments in an im­age that is essen­tially un­ex­pected. It might be two sub­jects that you wouldn’t nor­mally think would go to­gether, or it might be some graphic con­nec­tion. In what­ever case, pho­to­graph­i­cally it de­pends on you see­ing some cor­re­spon­dence that most other peo­ple don’t. And that makes your own eye and imag­i­na­tion stand apart from other peo­ple’s.

Co­in­ci­den­tally (sorry), as I was sit­ting down to write this, I saw a book re­view in The Guardian about a book called Fluke, and by a fluke the sub-ti­tle was The Maths and Myths of Co­in­ci­dences, so it seems an aus­pi­cious time to cover the sub­ject! One thing I learned from this book that might just be rel­e­vant to pho­tog­ra­phy is that there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween co­in­ci­dence (‘a mean­ing­ful con­junc­tion of things with­out any ap­par­ent cause’) and a fluke (sheer good luck). Pho­to­graph­i­cally, then, a fluke de­pends on get­ting out shoot­ing of­ten enough to im­prove your chances of com­ing across un­usual jux­ta­po­si­tions, while a co­in­ci­dence very much de­pends on the way you see, your view­point, lens and so on. Ul­ti­mately, co­in­ci­dence plays a much larger role in pho­tog­ra­phy than it might seem at first, be­cause any kind of thought­ful and neat com­po­si­tion and fram­ing is about mak­ing things co­in­cide!

There’s no con­nec­tion in re­al­ity be­tween the mu­ral and the mo­tor­bike’s wing mir­rors, but view­point and fo­cal length make a purely graphic con­nec­tion

Our glo­be­trot­ting Con­trib­u­tor at Large, renowned pho­tog­ra­pher and pro­lific au­thor Michael Free­man, presents a monthly mas­ter­class that’s ex­clu­sive to

N-Photo. Michael has pub­lished dozens of books on pho­tog­ra­phy, in­clud­ing the best­selling Per­fec­tEx­po­sure.

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