Home How-To Tip Of The Week When Wrong Is Right - 10/20/08
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

When Wrong Is Right - 10/20/08

Set your work apart from the crowd by shooting in the wrong direction

This Article Features Photo Zoom

tip of the weekEver lug your camera a really long distance to get a shot-to the rim of the Grand Canyon for a great vista, or all the way to Paris for a snap of the Mona Lisa, only to find that not only has someone beat you to it, but that someone is actually in the way of your great shot?

When these situations arise, I like to think about the shot I had planned, and then reverse it. And I think ‘what if I saw what the subject saw?' So I turn around and look back at all these people doing their own looking. Nine times out of ten it makes for a great and intriguing shot, so don't be afraid to photograph other photographers.

Any time you're in a crowded place, particularly where everyone's attention is focused intently on one thing, it may be harder to get the shot you had hoped for, but thankfully another possibility has just fallen in your lap.

On a visit to Paris, for example, I intended to snap a shot of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. The mass of people between her and I not only prevented me from getting remotely close to the painting, but they made for an interesting subject themselves-much more interesting than if I'd shot this lonely little painting on the wall. I worked my way around to the edge of the barricade, almost parallel to Mona, turned my camera toward the masses and made a much more interesting image than the one I originally envisioned.

People are interesting, and we all like looking at ourselves. That's probably the biggest reason why photographs of people looking, and concentrating, and focusing all their attention on one place-especially if they are doing it en masse-make for interesting viewing. We simply find it interesting to watch other people find things interesting.

Photojournalists have utilized this technique for ages as another way to show the human condition, reacting to events that are joyous or terrifying, dramatic or dull. Whatever the event unfolding before your eyes, if other people are witnessing it too, they're bound to make interesting subjects.

The next time a crowd of bystanders, onlookers or gawkers gets between you and the photo you pictured, don't hesitate to turn around and point your camera at them. It's a great way to provide an interesting perspective on all sorts of events, landmarks or locations.


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