Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Photographer's Vision

Vibrant color, motion and energy from the streets of India are revealed in this striking image of daily life in Indian cities.
Seven different captures were combined in Photoshop to composite this image of the dynamic and vibrant life on the urban streets of India.

A Photographer’s Unique Vision
The most important thing you, as a photographer, have to offer the world is your unique vision…and that is also the most important tool you have for marketing yourself. If you are a stock shooter as I am, then a unique vision is also one of the keys to having a long and successful career. While most people don’t think of having a “vision” as being that important for a stock shooter, in today’s market and going forward I believe it is not only important, but will continue to grow in importance.

Images That Stand Out From The Crowd
Your personal vision is what can make your images stand of from the crowd, and whether you shoot assignments, stock, fine art or weddings, your unique vision is key to financial success and personal fulfillment. As such it is important to continually be perfecting and growing that vision. But how does one achieve a vision, or continue to grow it?

Developing Your Vision With Intention
The most important factor for developing your vision is intention. If you have the intent to develop, or continue developing your vision, then it is much more likely that you will take the steps to do so. For me it helps to ask myself what it is that I want to communicate from a given scene, or even from a stock concept. Once I distill my purpose into a clear form I can start to work that purpose over in my mind with the variables of visual imagery that are available to me. What composition will add impact to the visual? What viewpoint will best get my message across? What can I do to share my emotion in the image? With my mind still churning away I can begin to experiment with the camera and/or with Photoshop.

The Streets Of Delhi And Varanasi
For example, on my recent trip to India I found myself enjoying the hustle, bustle and bedlam of life on the streets of Delhi and Varanasi. Whether zipping through a throng of people on a “Tuk Tuk” (one of those lawnmower-powered tricycles called and “auto” in India), being carried along in the current of humanity in a crowded market, or just watching the flow of life go by, I was filled with a sense of wonder and appreciation. I wanted to communicate that energy, along with the color and vibrancy of the street scenes, in a stock photo. Because I also wanted to create an image that could be used in advertising, I had to take into consideration the problem of model releases. I reasoned that by using long shutter speeds I could render the people unidentifiable as well as capture the frenetic pace of the movement in front of me.

The Bedlam Of India And Long Shutter Speeds
Every time I found myself in the presence of what I call the bedlam of India I used the opportunity to shoot those long shutter speed images. Pretty quickly I recognized that my chance of capturing the feeling of the scene I was after probably wouldn’t happen with a singe exposure, but I theorized that if I could combine two or more of my images using Photoshop I could create a picture that conveyed the color, excitement and energy of the Indian streets that I experienced. 

Signed Model Releases And Sales Potential
Yesterday I finally got the time to peruse my images and attempt to create that new stock image. As the composite began to come together I reasoned that even though the people in the scene were not recognizable, the image would still have a better chance of selling if I could provide some model releases. With that in mind I pulled three faces from the images I shot that I did have signed releases for, and worked them into the scene. Ultimately I used a total of seven different captures to create the final composite photo.

If You Love The Image, Others Will Too
Will this image sell? I don’t know. I think it should…but one never knows. But whether it sells or not, achieving the goal I have in mind, and in a way I haven’t seen done before, offers me concrete benefits. It fulfills me, something vital for me to stay productive in a career that is largely solitary and certainly totally self-motivated. This is also an image that stands out from the other images I have seen of India.  I have come to realize over the years that if I love the image, then others will too…the trick now is to get the image in front of an appropriate audience. While that is in large part up to the stock agency that handles the image, I can enhance my chances by getting the photo up on my own site, well captioned, titled, alt-texted and linked…and yes, blogged about as well!

Communicating The Emotions And Messages Within
Whether this individual image turns out to be a great or even a good-selling stock photo isn’t really the point. Your career as a photographer doesn’t depend on any one image, but rather on a body of work that is the result of consistent effort. The best, and the most successful photographers, have the intent and the drive to continually push their images, to try new approaches and to always strive to communicate the emotions and messages that lie within themselves.

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