How to photograph something (when you see nothing)

stockxchng-old-door-stock-photo-by-timobalkIt has happened to nearly every photographer – you plan a photo shoot and wait for some inspiration but nothing comes.  Especially on location, if the sky is dull and the place is empty it can be easy to just go home.  But with a trained eye, you should be able to salvage something out of seemingly nothing.  Here are some ideas on how to open up your eyes to possibilities.

1.    Texture
If you are struggling to find a specific focal point look for textures instead – it could be the bark of a tree, or a brick wall.  It could be sand or rusty old iron.  Look for things that look like you could reach out to touch them – the more depth they have the better.
2.    Color
It doesn’t have to be color all over, it can be a pop here and there.  Look out for things that are usually just a small feature, letterboxes, doors, windows that may have a stripe of red on them.  Make that color a focal point – don’t forget you can play with it on Photoshop later, adding a boost to the color to make it stand out and desaturating the rest of the image if you want a dramatic effect.
3.    Details
Use a macro lens if you are struggling to capture an interesting shot.  Take the macro lens right into the image, taking photographs of doorways for example, signs, of decay, chips in a tree or close ups of rocks. You will be surprised by the kinds of abstract images you can create by doing this.  Remember – if your shot is not interesting, you may not be close enough.
4.    See in black and white
This applies if you have a very dull day or a situation that is devoid of any color.  See in black and white – imagine that your image will be converted later in Photoshop to mono and take the photographs accordingly.  So you may place more emphasis on shadows and light, or on strong contrasts rather than replying on lots of color or tones.
5.    Depth of field
Not every image has to be perfectly sharp – play with the focus a little to get some interesting shots.  A shallow depth of field works really well with image taken with a  macro lens, for example.  Try focusing on one specific area of the image and see how the rest of the image becomes blurred and soft.
6.    Shapes and patterns
Don’t forget to look out for shapes.  Photography isn’t all about depth of field or colors – remember that shapes can create strong lines that are interesting to look at.  Look for lines that work together or against each other – how about horizontal lines next to vertical ? Look for patterns too – it could be lines of a building, shadows, reflections, or actually patterns drawn on the walls.
Be creative and don’t give up!



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