Photographic Fundamentals, Part Two

Guidelines and Tips to Improve your Photos

Rubin, Christmas Eve (2018)

Photographic Beats

Every photograph has something (we hope) that is what the photographer wanted to take a picture of: the subject. It could be a thing, a bunch of things, a moment, a cool texture… but when you look into this little rectangular frame, you can describe the things that draw your attention as having an energetic “beat.”

0-beats
1-Beat
2-Beats
Also 2-beats

Words/Text

The Words Matter

Color

The Color Matters

“Interestingness”

The company Flickr integrated this term to describe some photos, and it’s a good concept. Interestingness is the ability of an image to attract and hold our attention. It’s a little like charisma — some pictures have it, and some don’t, and it’s reasonably hard to describe. In general, a photo needs to have a reason for being: it’s better when it’s showing us something new (or something old but in a new way), something we are curious about, or something exciting. There might be a very clear photo of a leaf on the ground, but — we’ve all seen a lot of leaves, and there’s not much amazing about this one. It’s just another leaf. I’d say the photo lacks interestingness. They say there should be some mystery in a photo, a little story that reveals itself. I’d say mystery and story are attributes that make an image interesting.

My Photographic Observations

As I said, I don’t photograph any particular subject of interest so much as photograph anything I come across in my daily life. For me photography isn’t about the subject so much as the approach, and my approach follows rules I’ve appropriated from haiku. So what I aim for, and only occasionally nail, is that images have two uneven beats, they’re more moment than object, their composition is structured but natural feeling, they are highly authentic, reasonably simple scenes, and they don’t shout, but present the content through allusion and metaphor. When I take photos, most of the time, this is a high bar — and I end up shooting many cool looking objects and practice my compositional skills. But this is me. Everyone will determine their own approach.

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M. H. Rubin

Living a creative life, a student of high magic, and hopefully growing wiser as I age. • Ex-Lucasfilm, Netflix, Adobe. • Here are my stories and photos.