EX­PRES­SIVE, EL­E­GANT, STRANGE

Look for the strik­ing in ex­pres­sion, ges­ture and pos­ture, and re­ject the or­di­nary, says Michael Free­man

NPhoto - - Niko Pedia - Our glo­be­trot­ting Con­trib­u­tor at Large, renowned pho­tog­ra­pher and pro­lific au­thor Michael Free­man, presents a month-by-month mas­ter­class that’s ex­clu­sive to N-Photo, in which he ex­plores his tried-and-tested paths to more cre­ative pho­tog­ra­phy. Michael ha

When you pho­to­graph peo­ple, which is what this is­sue’s Cre­ative Path is all about, there’s al­most al­ways a choice, and it’s an im­por­tant one. I’m not talk­ing about choos­ing who to pho­to­graph, be­cause only your own gut re­ac­tion will tell you who looks in­ter­est­ing, while if you’re do­ing it be­cause you’ve been asked to or as­signed to, then it’s a given. The im­por­tant cre­ative choice is: at what mo­ment in how they present them­selves do you shoot?

Nat­u­rally, there isn’t a univer­sal an­swer, but if you don’t ask the ques­tion of your­self in the first place, you’re pretty well guar­an­teed to get a string of medi­ocre por­traits. Here I’m us­ing the term ‘por­trait’ to in­clude any kind of im­age that fo­cuses solely on one or two peo­ple, even in street pho­tog­ra­phy; in fact, es­pe­cially in street pho­tog­ra­phy, and any sit­u­a­tion in which peo­ple are not pos­ing for your cam­era, be­cause it’s then that peo­ple are not pre­sent­ing them­selves self-con­sciously, and you’re likely to cap­ture more nat­u­ral be­hav­iour. Much depends on how long you have sub­jects in the frame, but dur­ing that time, they will prob­a­bly move and act in a va­ri­ety of ways.

Re­mem­ber that peo­ple be­have – that is, they present them­selves to your cam­era –in three dif­fer­ent ways, and some­times these are com­bined. At one end of the scale is body move­ment, pos­ture. A lit­tle closer in is ges­ture: what peo­ple do with their arms and hands. And closer in still, and most com­pelling, is ex­pres­sion.

Let’s start with ex­pres­sion. When you have a choice, it’s im­por­tant that you know what you want, at least in gen­eral. You won’t al­ways get it, but be­ing clear about what at­tracts you as a pho­tog­ra­pher makes sure that you shoot when you see it. There isn’t ever one uni­ver­sally best mo­ment for this, so this is just one sug­ges­tion, and it’s the ob­vi­ous one: go for the most in­tense,

If you en­joy this ar­ti­cle and want to learn more, there are 50 more paths to be dis­cov­ered in Michael’s new book Fifty Paths to Cre­ative Pho­tog­ra­phy (NB: all 50 are dif­fer­ent from those that will be fea­tured here in the mag­a­zine).

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