Digital Photographer

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I was asked yesterday afternoon to contribute some tips towards Digital Photographer’s upcoming feature on music photography (on the 23rd of April), and being the – slightly shocked – conversational soul that I am, I obliged the notion. Hopefully at least one of the three tips I passed across makes the final cut for the feature (…or maybe more; it would be very cool I have to admit).

So, I had a ponder – trying to distill what I do in a heartbeat into something that isn’t just incoherent waffle. I’m sure everyone has performed a task that they find it hard to express into a point by point breakdown, so I’m not alone when I say that it was a bit taxing narrowing down everything to just a few concise areas. There’s just so much information to consider when pointing the camera…hell, before you even point the camera.

In the end I decided on ‘relationship with the subject’, ‘experimentation’, and ‘triangles’.

Now, I think the first two pretty much explain themselves, if they don’t – then I don’t know how to simplify them further in all honesty. The concept of ‘triangles’ is a little bit more impenetrable I will admit; and is the one I’d like to see included the most; because pattern recognition (and the potential to create groups of shapes) is possibly the most forefront thought in my mind when shooting – obsessively so.

Our brains (…well, my brain, though I am certain everyone is the same to varying degrees) is wired to read and extrapolate information based on recognition of mere shape alone (ignoring content). More than we may realise.

In all of our senses we communicate with patterns on an invisible level, visually as well as in taste, touch, smell and sound. A lot of what we ‘enjoy’ is built on a particular pattern of stimuli. Visually, most of us (whether we realise it or not) are more attracted to an offset symmetry (‘The Golden Ratio’ as such is a common, mathmatical example of this), and thus instead of looking for balance – a square, or a rectangle, or even a circle (although I have directly shot circular content before…albeit offset, now that I think about it) – I’m more inclined to look for a particular kind of…imbalance, in the content of a picture.

Simply put (…and before I get tempted into a more verbose explanation), a triangle has two points at one side and only one at the other, weighting the visual impact of the triangle in a particular direction. A 2:1 ratio of course, not the coveted 1.618:1 – but the idea is there in principle.

I guess I should say (schools will rejoice) that maths can be beautiful.

Anyhow, each of the tips has an accompanying picture to assist in illustrating the point, so obviously I’d like to see all three included as it means Colenso Parade, A Plastic Rose and the mighty Supergrass (not, that they need it in fairness) will see their exposure rise a notch.

…more to follow.

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