Photograph above taken with a Leica R5 and Tri-X 400 film
My Process for Photographing
When I photograph landscapes (with people), I use a technique known as "setting the scene." This technique involves finding a location/background that interests me and then experimenting with a composition. Usually, I will take 2-3 preliminary images without any people to check if the composition is to my liking. Once I’ve settled on a design that I feel is strong, I wait for an appropriate figure to add interest to the final image. Sometimes this takes a while, and other times it can happen quickly or not at all.
For candid photography, my approach is different due to a lack of time to prepare. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t think about classical design techniques. On the contrary, I'm always looking for figure-ground relationships between subject and background, overlapping elements to create the illusion of the third dimension, arabesques that will guide the viewer through the composition, dominant lines that break the image vertically, horizontally, and diagonally and many other effective design techniques that will enhance the quality of my pictures.
My Use of Camera Grids
After experimenting with camera grids for a several years, I found them to be too distracting and completely unnecessary. Regardless of whether I’m shooting landscape or candid images, I no longer use them. Additionally, I don’t memorize the armature of the 1.5 rectangle while I'm photographing. While some photographers claim they can see the grid while shooting, I think these claims are absolute nonsense.
My Thoughts on Perfection in Photography
All of my life I’ve been a perfectionist. If I wasn't looking for the perfect job, the perfect relationship, or the perfect workout routine, I was trying to create the perfect photograph. However, there is one big problem with this attitude on life - it’s self-defeating and nearly impossible to achieve regardless of your endeavor.
Over the past few years, I’ve been working on curbing my perfectionist attitude - especially with my photographs. After studying and analyzing art for the last ten years, I’ve learned that very few pictures can be considered perfect. A better approach to evaluating your images is to grade them, almost as if they were an assignment for a college class. For example, some of my photographs I would consider "A" photos, while others I might consider them as "B" or "C" photos.
By grading my work, it motivates me to do better the next time I'm on a photography shoot and allows me some freedom to be less critical on myself and my art. So, if you’re a photographer or artist that is always striving to create flawless art, give yourself a break and accept the fact that most things in life aren’t perfect. Just try to do better the next time around.