Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Aesthetic Checklist

I don't want to suggest that we can reduce photography to a formula, but just as it doesn't hurt to confirm you have done everything you can technically to capture a good image - it doesn't hurt to quickly review some points to see if you have done your best with the subject in the area of making a strong image as well as a sharp one.

1) does the image show what interested you in the first place? For example, you might be photographing an interesting face. You found the face interesting because of the person's smile - so have you done everything possible to capture that smile - from making the model comfortable to duplicating the angle from which you first saw the smile.
2) is anything interfering with showing what interested you to its best? Perhaps harsh lighting has destroyed the enigmatic smile or a disturbing shadow from the nose creates problems or maybe the angle you have selected to best show the smile has now made the chin look weak. Sure photographs are compromises but they are also puzzles for us to solve - how to get the most of the good with the least of the bad.
3) are there any elements in the image which distract from its simplicity and power? Sure that curve on the right is wonderful, but it doesn't do anything for the shapes which make the image and thus distract from them.
4) have I done everything I can to place the main subject against the background in an effective way. Sure we know not to have trees sticking out of people's heads, but there's a lot more to placement, not just to avoid distractions but to enhance the image - for example, the placement of dark background against light parts of the subject while dark subject has a light background - sometimes in the same image.
5) foreground - does it in fact lead you to the subject or just confuse? Would less depth of field actually be better?
6) edges - is there anything I can do to make them work better, likewise corners?
7) message - what is it and is it being said as clearly as possible - ie. what could I do to make that message clearer - better lighting, adjusted positioning, hdr, focus blending
8) how am I going to treat the image - ie. previsualization - is there anything I can do now that will help that interpretation of the image? It could be contrast management with a fill light or reflector, waiting for a cloud to pass over the sun, an adjustment to the exposure.

1 comment:

Tommy Williams said...

Thanks for posting this. I appreciate it.