When I started thinking about our “one love” theme and letting my heart lead me this week, I decided two things: 1) I was going to shoot everything that made me squint into thought and 2) I was keeping my 50mm lens on my camera.
When I got my first camera, I carried it with me everywhere. To work, to dinners with friends, to people’s houses, to parties and events — I took SO MANY PICTURES and gave no effs what anyone thought about it. And while I look back on a lot of those pictures and can see things I would do differently now, I’m glad I did this. It forced me to get comfortable with the idea of trying and failing, with finding my way around the camera, to developing a style of my own. And now I can see how far I’ve come as a photographer.
Now, why the 50mm? For the past year my 35mm has been glued to my camera, but my first 50mm — a nifty little 50mm f/1.8 from Canon — was where I had my “a-has!” years ago. I remember the first picture I took with it that made me pause. It was of my dog Chase, we were in our backyard and she’s looking back at me — I may have gone on to over-edit the photo, but with this shot I finally began to understand how my camera and light worked together. Paired with my cropped sensor camera, the 50mm was actually more of a zoom to about 75mm, so there was a lot to figure out. Like, stepping back some. But the pieces began to come together and I got smarter.
This week I’ve photographed my evening walk to my car, a waffle experiment, some beautiful heirloom tomatoes a coworker grew in her garden, Mike cooking dinner, and our tribe at the Oldham County Fair. You know where I’m going with this week’s photo, don’t you?
Settings: f/4.0, 1/320 sec, 50mm, ISO 100
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM
Just like old times — and just like last year — I toted my big ass camera all over the Oldham County Fairgrounds. My friends have grown to be comfortable in front of my camera and with their kids growing so fast (and kids being so fun to photograph), this is an easy choice to make. I look like an idiot with my hands full of a camera instead of corn dogs and straps slung across my body every which way, but it makes me happy. My only regret this year was that I had left that 50mm lens on the camera — the 35mm would have been so much better for this setting — but that was rule this week. I made it work as much as I could.
When the kids get on rides, I take a few frames when they circle around to us. And I usually get a few nice ones that are keepers. But this photo of Tanner… be still my heart. His smile is one of pure almost-four-year-old joy, he is having the time of his life in that little airplane and he’s actually looking at me. (He’s quite shy and usually refuses a picture. I got a lot of the back of his head this night.) As soon as I got this photo, I swear I felt my heart swell.
THAT is the reason why I carry my camera. To clarify, it’s not about the subject; it’s about how it makes me feel once I’ve got “the shot.” This week’s picture could had easily been of a tomato or a flower or a self-portrait or of more rust – it just happened to be of Tanner. But that feeling, that split-second of joy and pride at once, when I can walk away and be satisfied to not take another picture all night… THAT is my one love.
Week 33: Leading Lines
We’ve composed with lines a few times already this year with curves and framing, but this week we’re making it simple: leading lines. Leading lines are a composition that allows you to guide the viewer’s eyes through your image to the subject, but they can be as simple or complicated as you want. Find lines in nature or man-made settings, have them stretch all the way through your frame or layer them in the foreground of your image. Just remember you are guiding the viewer’s eye, so consider where your line begins and ends, and how you frame the entire story.
You can find lines all around you, so find something that inspires you. I’ve included some links this week too in case you needed more guidance.
How to Use Leading Lines for Better Compositions
Jim Zuckerman on Composition of Leading Lines
How to Use Leading Lines to Create More Powerful iPhone Photos (applies to all photography!)
Bonus Challenge: Composition can help a photograph tell a better story in documentary photography. When learning more about leading lines in my workshop last year, we were told, “Don’t just look with your eyes, look through your viewfinder as well. Having limitations of the frame can make ‘seeing’ the lines much easier.” I challenge you to “size up” your lines through your viewfinder and really consider if it’s a strong composition before you press the shutter button.
If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!