The funny thing about photography is how the most striking photos are, more often than not, the surprising ones.
The photo I'm using to start off Anatomy of a photograph – entitled In the darkest shade of blue, shot on a Nikkormat with Portra 400 film – is one such photo. And it is one of my favorite portraits – pictures, really – I've taken.
What works with this photo is several things: one, the composition; two, the natural lighting; three, the space in the frame.
The composition, I think, is the strongest; simply, all of the lines connect back to the portrait subject, even those at the very top of the frame. The viewer's eye, no matter how it strays, is always taken back to the subject. The light source – solely the natural light filtering through the shades – was solid, too, creating a silhouette by way of natural rim lighting. (This is ideal for me, because I only use natural light.) Finally, the spaciousness of the photo – a byproduct of the composition, for sure – connects everything; the space allows the photo both breath and intimacy.
As for imperfections: I didn't meter the shot, which can probably explain the slight underexposure. The focus is also slightly fuzzy.
At first I thought these slight imperfections were a detriment, but looking at the photo now, I think they actually emphasize the intimacy of the image. The slight darkness adds to the mood, and it also even highlights his silhouette.
When a friend asked me recently how I was feeling about my progress in the past year since picking up a camera again, I thought of this photo first. It shows how much I've adjusted back to the medium, but more importantly, I think it shows how I'm better – or still – in tune with my instinct with a camera.
At the end of the day, photography is less about intelligence and more about intuition. That's something I love about it. I also see it in this photo, and I hope you can too.
Until next time,
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