Picking up a camera and hitting the shutter is easy, but knowing how to frame a shot is another skill altogether.
You might have heard the expression that a person has a “photographic eye”. Like all artistic endeavors, very few are naturally gifted, while a majority of all the other photographers train their eye so framing good shots becomes second nature. Cartier Bresson, a famous photographer once said, ”Your first 10,000 pictures are your worst.”
In a metaphorical way, this applies to video as well since the two mediums are interchangeable, when it comes to the art of framing a shot well.
The journey of 10,000 photos
I remember my first days on shooting assignments for a class I was taking at a junior college. If there was a boring subject to be photographed, I took it, and it was exciting — not so exciting for the people who had to look at my images. I was learning how to evaluate natural light and what that meant for the picture I was composing. Simultaneously, I was learning F-stops and shutter speed to control lighting to achieve my desired effect and the mood. I was also experiencing the world differently through the lens of my camera. This gave me a sense of being invulnerable, so I took more chances than I normally would have without a camera in hand.
I kept shooting through the rest of my college career and getting valuable feedback from my professors and my peers. This is where I began to seriously develop my eye as things came into focus. I wanted every image to tell a story by creating uniques juxtapositions with people and the environment. Also, look for things in the environment that stood out that created visual interest and could tell a story — create a narrative within one frame.
The camera became a passport as I began taking more trips around my local area and wherever I would travel to. The goal was to reveal and capture the magic in every day with my camera. I’ve been shooting ever since as an artist and for work.
It takes experience to develop your photographic eye
I think most photographers will tell you that they can feel something when they get a good shot — it just feels right. All of these attributes followed me into the world of commercial video production. I was ready to start shooting, but it wasn’t that easy. Shooting street photography was my wax on wax off years. Those years trained me on how to see and prepared me for the commercial world. And by training, I mean getting out in the world and finding an aesthetic that works for you and one that draws people into your work.
Developing my photographic eye prepared me well for the world of commercial video. Most everything else could be learned by tutorials but developing a photographic eye takes years of filming. I was a natural when it came time to blocking shots on set, which I’ve written about here.
Get out and start shooting
If you aspire to be a photographer or filmmaker, get out there and start shooting. Developing your photographic eye will take time, but nothing can get in your way and the world can be your canvas — it’s all there for the taking. There’s plenty of magic that happens around us waiting to be captured by someone like you.