Finding Your Voice: Day 9. The View.

Can you believe we’re almost done? Today is Day 9 in: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.”  And now…

The View: Wide or Macro?

Today’s exploration asks how you love to see the world. The wide view? Close up, contained and focused? Or somewhere in between?

If you’re like me, you love it all! I wanted to admit that right off the bat, in case you thought I was gonna say “Choose amongst them!”  No… if you love all view, go for it!

Where you DO have to choose is in your composition. You have to, in a sense, justify what goes in the frame of whatever view you’ve chosen. For this series, that means make strong choices about that based upon what you love. The story you want to tell. The message, point of view or perspective you want to share… which has to all come back to what you love most.

The Life Cycle of a Wheel

Let’s be clear about something…

I’d like to be abundantly clear about something, if it isn’t already. For this series, I’m speaking strictly from an artistic point of view. I’m not taking into account anything commercial… clients… selling prints (that could happen – or come later)… none of that. Those are different discussions. This is ALL about you finding YOUR voice. Not the one that’s been watered down or shaded by anyone else’s opinion or some desired outcome.

Think that’s easy? Nuh-uh. To really, truly and completely hear the voice of your inner artist, your muse… you have to be willing to let go of all the outside voices and ONLY listen to your inner guidance. The voice of your heart and soul – the one that makes you swoon with love and passion. That takes FOCUS. Maybe even the relentless kind. It might make you uncomfortable at first … or it might free your spirit once and for all!

See, there’s plenty of time later on to re-direct what and how you photograph in order to meet some client, project, assignment or outside influence’s parameters… but even that will never be the same if you learn to speak visually with a clear, strong voice that is YOURS!

Again, I’ll use some of my images to show you what I mean about this. It’s not because mine are always the bestest of the best in the whole wide world. It’s because that’s the only way I can absolutely demonstrate the kind of thinking I’m encouraging you to experiment with in YOUR work.

After all, it’s not about figuring out what photos you like to look at, it’s about getting some new ideas how to create photos you love. 

The examples

Because of that crazy thing we call social media, I’ve become known as a landscape photographer. But that’s not how I started… nor even what I always photograph. I started out making stories, little scenes, looking closely at things and I still love to do that.  Not only in my photography – but in my life! I’m an examiner of things. I figure stuff out, try to see the component parts, the origins of things that peak my interest.

One day, I was out photographing one of my favorite aspen groves. It was fall and the colors were going OFF! Artists, photographers, lovers of nature all flocked to the grove.

Art and artist

Artist Crystal Harling was one of them. I was so taken with her standing there with her paints, brushes and vision… that I asked if I could take her photo. She agreed (I sent it to her later). I loved seeing her in action, her view of the scene visible right there on the canvas. It was a quintessional “ARTIST” flashcard. And a medium view did the trick.

And for our purpose here, it fulfilled my love of the colors, a wonderful story, textures, some of my fave elements, behind the scenes and well, just art. I included ONLY the elements I thought I needed to tell the story effectively… no more, no less. Truckee, CA.

Artist Painting - crystal

I also loved her paints and brushes. I so admire folks whose talents run this way… and with her permission, I also took shots of her palette. To me, this was kind of an “origin story” of the painting itself… the textures, colors, the brush itself, just waiting to be put back into action (clearly, it had BEEN in action at this point!). It just felt delicious to me.

The Artists Palette

Paris: Pano wide

On my last trip to Paris, I wanted to see it from above. I wanted a wide view… something that showed a number of landmarks, but more… gave a feeling of the city itself. How it’s laid out, how far it stretches… the air up there. 😉

So I went to the top of the Sacre Couer in Montmartre. They don’t allow tripods, so I only had my Fuji X-T10 with me. Wide angle would push the middle too far away, so I used my 16-55mm lens and shot a 9-image handheld panorama, which I stitched together later. (I used Auto Giga Pan… I know you’re gonna ask. heh.)

It fulfilled the vision I had for this spot… showing part of the Sacre Couer in the foreground… some of the greenery that you’ll find throughout the city, the layout of the neighborhoods, the Eiffel Tower and La Defense in the background… the moody skies. These were all elements that I craved for this vision I had. It’s wider than the common photograph – but feels more like how you actually see the city from this vantage point with eyeballs.

My Point: I made some very specific choices in creating this photo. From where to find it, how to shoot it, what to include – and how to process it later. All based on my own voice, nobody else’s. Which is what I’m hoping is becoming clearer to you how to do by now!

Paris At Her Feet

Lady Protea: macro

The grow Proteas at The Arboretum in Santa Cruz. Alot of ’em! Personally, I think they’re a little “meh” when you stand back at look at a big bush full of them… but up close is another matter! They offer Soooooo many different kinds of compositions and points of view.

Here, I chose a depth of field that allowed for selective focus… another aspect I wanted to bring in here. I didn’t think it was as interesting when EVERYTHING was in focus. For me, the depth and character of this flower displayed better when some of it was soft, a bit blurry.

It felt dreamy, a little other worldly, the colors delicious, the textures touchable, the vibe a little mysterious. These are all things I love, which this flower presented. I chose this composition because it framed exactly what I wanted to see… leaving a certain amount up to the imagination. I love when my imagination is peaked.


Lake Tahoe… Medium shot

It was the blues of the day… in the water and in the sky that got me going on this. The snowy mountains in the background were an added bonus. I could’ve done a pano… but the rock on the lower left was simply the most satisfying punctuation on this scene. Although I framed it wider and closer that day… this was the one that I loved the best. It felt complete and it spoke the story of that moment with eloquence.

The Lady's Got Curves

Eastern Sierras: Medium close up

I started attempting a  macro view on this. Then slowly opened up my lens, as I explored what it was that made me want to photograph it in the first place.  It was the colors (blue and gold), the snow, the selective focus, the gradual fade to blur of the background that ultimately floated my boat.

Plus, I loved the shapes, the seeming gestures and movement that these branches conveyed. I moved all over to find just the configuration that made my stomach flutter and my breath gasp a little. That’s how I knew I’d found the right comp for me.

NOTE: Body sensations can tell you more than your mind sometimes!


Now YOU…

Right. So, your turn. Wide… medium… or close? What is it about each that you love? (expansive heart? Just the right containment? Up close and personal, so you can feel the breath of your subject?).

Yes, I know it depends upon what you’re shooting. But even when you’re standing before the Grand Canyon… what are you going to include in the shot? What elements, colors, shapes, lines, textures will most clearly convey what YOU love about that moment? You can’t include it all… so decisions must be made.

Those decisions will lead you to what lens, composition, even processing later you’ll employ. You have fewer really crappy images sucking up space on your hard drive… more images you can’t wait to get your hands on!

The best part? They will sing in YOUR voice!

Miss a day? No worries… they’re all right here:

Finding Your Voice, Part 1: My favorite way to feel.
Finding Your Voice, Part 2: My favorite time of day.
Finding Your Voice, Part 3: My favorite light.
Finding Your Voice, Part 4: My favorite texture.
Finding Your Voice, Part 5: My favorite element.
Finding Your Voice, Part 6: My favorite color.
Finding Your Voice, Part 7: My favorite movement.
Finding Your Voice, Part 8: My favorite shapes & patterns.
Finding Your Voice, Part 9: My favorite view.
Finding Your Voice, Part 10: My story.