I often provide a polite smile when someone says “Wow that’s a great photo! You must have a really good camera!”  I’m sure I have said that to others many moons ago.  For a photographer, the camera is only a portion of what goes into making an image.

The technology that is available in today’s camera bodies and lenses are amazing.  Post-processing software is also equally astonishing leaving your creative options almost limitless.  So I do tip my hat to the equipment; however, the images that I produce do not only come from the camera and the software.  The final image comes from learning how to identify a strong composition, an understanding how to convey emotion in images, and then how to use all the technology to show the viewer the scene through your eyes.  Without all of that coming together, the image tends to be flat.

Composition and conveying emotion through images is not easily learned.  It is difficult to pick-up that skill from a textbook and that is the reason I gravitate towards workshops with professionals that I admire or follow their blogs and postings. The knowledge required to produce a powerful image that draws a viewer in is acquired through lots of time and experience.

There isn’t a book with 101 rules to follow for perfect compositions.  Well, maybe there is, but those rules are still only guidelines.  The world is too grand and diverse to box yourself into following even 1001 rules. Occasionally, breaking the guidelines is what is needed to produce a commanding image.  It’s a tangled web of rules, exceptions, and perception, all of which cannot be learned in a day, a week, a month, or a year.  However, when you work to develop that intricate web of knowledge, the resulting image can be true brilliance conveying emotion in a single frame.  I strive for continuous improvement and new challenges. With photography, there isn’t a final destination when you are done and have acquired all knowledge possible on the subject. That is what keeps it interesting.  So whoever you are on your photography journey, enjoy the ride, learn and master something new, and now and then, get creative and break away from a rule or two.

Happy Shooting!

Composition assistance provided by Richard Bernabe during my workshop time with him in 2013 at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.