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Monday, November 24, 2008

Keep It Simple

In my last post I talked about using silhouettes to keep things simple and that got me thinking about the concept of simplicity in general.

There is a tendency in all photographers to try and include everything we see in one frame. It's as if the more we show at one time, the more we'll get our ideas across. Exactly the opposite is true, however: the simpler that you keep your compositions, the clearer your vision becomes. Keeping things simple though requires a thoughtful process of elimination and forces you to look at the image on your LCD and ask one simple question: What don't I need here?

I am particularly susceptible to overloading the frame when I'm traveling in a new place and I'm very excited by the surrounds. While traveling in Iowa recently (perhaps it was the simple surroundings) I decided to force myself to keep my compositions as simple as possible--often just showing a single object in the frame. It was a lot of fun to see how far down I could strip a landscape and still come up with an interesting shot. When I first saw this barn (outside of Des Moines, Iowa), for example, I was thinking of including it in a much wider farm scene. But as I began to eliminate other things like the fields, a small pond, the farmhouse, I began to see that what had really caught my eye was just this wonderful old barn.

When you're photographing any scene, see how many elements you can strip away and still have a strong photo. My guess is that the more you take away and the simpler you make things, the stronger your images will become.

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