A Memory Jogger or Communication?

[NIKON D4, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 4000, 1/250, ƒ/8, (35mm = 70)]

Through the years I have been asked to speak to various groups about photography. Many of these groups are photo enthusiasts.

Alabama 35 vs Virginia Tech 10 [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/100, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 17)]

Many of us make photos of our friends and family and when we look at the photo we remember. Most of these types of photos are memory joggers. The difference is when we look at the photo it helps to revive a memory. For those who were not present when the photo is made, will they know what is going on or what you are trying to say?

One of the points I always make about how to improve your photography is comparing making pictures to writing. Photos are like sentences—every sentence must have a subject and a verb. Every photo needs these same elements.

Manziel, Aggies Edge Duke 52-48 in Chick-fil-A Bowl [NIKON D4, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/1000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 220)]

Many photos which are not successful are often like run on sentences. What is the point of the photo? Where is the subject? What is going on?

The best way to improve your grammar is to start simple and then add elements. The best way to improve your photos is to keep it simple.

  • Come in close and eliminate as much as you can out of the viewfinder. This requires you to look all around the subject and start cutting things out of the photo.
  • Watch for busy foregrounds and backgrounds.
  • Action is important. This is the verb part of the photo.
Cosmic Bowling for 2014 Awards Book [NIKON D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3200, 1/80, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

The best way to make a photo is first to put what you want to say into a sentence. After you have done this, it is much easier to compose to be sure this is all you are saying and nothing else when making the photo.

Often the problem with most failed photos is the photographer never thought about what they wanted to say with the photo.

This Gray Squirrel is enjoying the left over apple pieces Dorie put out for them on our deck. Eastern Gray Squirrel [X-E3, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/60, ƒ/4.8, (35mm = 300)]

Remember photos which communicate the photographer thought about what they wanted to say before pushing the shutter button.