I’ll be the first to admit that I fall into the common trap of overcomplicating my composition when a simple one would be just as effective, if not more so. It’s an easy thing to do and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. We’re so driven to create unique compositions that it can cloud the intent of conveying the beauty in front of you.
Don’t get me wrong. I think there certainly is merit to working with, and around, all of the obstacles that nature introduces. In those lucky instances, the obstacles can actually work together to become your entire composition, especially when there is a symmetrical or visually appealing quality to it.
On a recent trip to Trillium Lake in Oregon’s Mt. Hood National Forest area, I spent most of my time thinking about how to not reinvent the wheel that I burnt off most of my time with great light. Most of the photos that I’ve seen from this area incorporate one form or another of nature’s obstacles. In this case, almost every photo I saw, and fell prey to taking myself, included these ornamentally arranged boulders. It’s one of those things that you can’t avoid, but I still found myself frustrated because I had envisioned something… simpler.
Fortunately, I came to my senses just when things were getting really good and opted to simplify. I put on my Zeiss Loxia 50mm prime lens and framed up Mt. Hood and part of its reflection in Trillium Lake. It’s a classic photo and you know what? It’s one of my favorites from the shoot because of how simple and elegant the composition is.
So next time you’re out on a shoot, keep in mind that you don’t have to overcomplicate things to execute on your vision. Identify what about the scene is most important to you and shoot.