The Magic Frame – The Subject



I am reading a remarkable book called “Being A Photographer” and, this, and some of the next few blog posts on “The Magic Frame” have been inspired by this book.

Now, the question that does, or should, haunt every photographer is where to point his/her camera.

What lies in the view of the camera? Why do you choose to point your camera that way? What do you leave out of the frame?

Where do you stand, and when do you click? These are some of the questions that should haunt every photographer. It is in answering these questions, and more (from time to time during your photographic life), that you will find some of the secrets that will make you a better – or worse – photographer.

To give an example, look at the two pictures above.

Both were clicked at virtually the same time. They have the same subject – the old man.

In the first, the ‘supporting cast’ of his bag and little plate of food support the subject. However, his pose is not telling any story except – I am the monkey for your shooting pleasure. Why did he strike this pose? Because we bought him some food and some tea.

In the second picture, we (I) see more authenticity – in a sense. There is the unguarded expression on his face. he is reaching into his meagre belongings in the bag. This bag probably contains a large percentage of his worldly belongings.

Both tell a story. The first, to me, is a sad picture because he jumped into that pose because he thought it would please me. I feel the sadness, yet if I had not told the story, it is unlikely many would know.

In the second, the story is relatively more clear for a casual observer to see, and to draw conclusions from.

When you go to a place, or choose to shoot in a studio, what you do focus on? This is where your eyes, and attention will be drawn.

For instance, when I clicked the picture at Pong Dam, in the Kangra District of India, I was focussed on the bleak atmosphere, and everything that I clicked, focussed on that.

At Pong Dam

I was focussed on the one element (the man in the boat, in this instance) that set the main subject in relation to the waters and the bleak sky. It was an exercise in minimalism.

You cannot look everywhere and click everything.

The eyes, the senses must be drawn to that main point of focus.

When I was at the Pong Dam, I felt the chilly, wet breeze. I felt the drizzle falling on my head, and I could sense the cold loneliness of nature.

That is what I focussed on.

What is the story of your subject? What is the purpose? What do you want to convey?



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