Anticipating Composition – Photography 101

Anticipating Composition – Photography 101

We all get excited about going to a new place to shoot or when we encounter a subject that we didn’t know was going to be at our shoot location. When we encounter these unexpected subjects we quickly pull out our cameras and start shooting without much thought to the end result. This is especially true for me with street photography and wildlife photography.

Lightning striking property of Salem Power Plant in New Jersey. Photograph taken from Augustine Beach, Delaware.  Title: Lightning and Salem Power Plant 2 Photographer: Melissa Fague Genre: Landscape Photography
Lightning and Salem Power Plant 2 created by: Melissa Fague – Landscape Photography

In my case I study a lot about a particular area that I am going to shoot in; this includes the animals or elements that may be in that particular area so that I know what I may encounter while exploring. While I was healing I read a lot about animals in my region, some I had seen before and never took much notice while other creatures I had no clue about; on my little trips out to shoot after my doctor appointments I would occasionally come across these creatures. I would be spewing with excitement about the encounter and I would totally disregard composition for the simple fact that I had found a particular creature and I knew what it was.

There was beautiful clouds in the sky last night which gave a layered effect of color; the colors were much more dramatic after the sun passed the horizon. Shortly after most of the visitors left the beach there was a group of paddle surfers that came through the Cape Henlopen Bay. I wasn't ready to leave yet so I stayed and watched the surfers approach the beach. As I watched them paddle in I thought a few motion silhouettes of the surfers would look pretty cool in setting sun, so I tried to get a few shots in. This one is my favorite.
Paddle Surfers in the Sunset Created by: Melissa Fague – Landscape Photography

The same can be said about street photography. There are hundreds if not thousands of stories happening all around you every day; street photography is about capturing the essence of a story in that moment. We normally become numb to the different things happening around us on a daily basis so when we finally do “see” with our creative eye the excitement makes us react quickly. If you are reading this while sitting in a public place look up for a few moments and watch what is unfolding around you. If you’re at home watch your children or the family pet, and be aware the next time you go out someplace. Each person in your line of sight is doing something and it’s part of his or her own story, the buildings around you have history, and the cars have motion; all of these thing have the potential to be captivating photographs that are hung on walls and displayed as art; not just pretty pictures.

As you watch these stories unfold or an unexpected encounter comes into the scene try to anticipate what is going to happen next. Frame your shot, check your background, adjust your aperture and shutter speed setting for that next moment… you may be much happy with the results than just rapidly firing off your shutter like a machine gun.

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