At a recent camera club talk, somebody pointed out that while still being a strong focal point, the main subject is often very small in my images. Strangely this wasn't a conscious decision on my part or even something I had noticed before, but, with another presentation coming up on the very subject of composition, it did get me thinking.
Composing my photos is something I do instinctively, that isn't to say I find it easy, it often takes a considerable amount of tripod shuffling and general faffing about to find something I'm happy with but it's something that I don't think too hard about.
Composition is the one thing I get asked about most often on my workshops. It's the aspect of landscape photography that people seem to struggle with most and is also one of the harder things to teach, probably because it's an area of photography where the photographer has the most input. So how is it done? Are there hard and fast rules to follow, black magic perhaps? or is it just an 'eye' that you either have or you don't?
As I pondered the subject while preparing my talk, it occurred to me was that each time we compose an image we are simply making decisions. Lots of them. Do I want to be closer? further away? higher? lower? left a bit? right a bit? where's the light? Do I want it behind me or in front of me? or to one side? which side? Those are just the basics, but you get the idea, and unless you are one of those annoyingly talented photographers who have the 'eye' and effortlessly create masterpieces without breaking a sweat, all these decisions require a bit of conscious thought.
When we see something we want to photograph, it's all too easy to dive straight in and snap away. Trust me, when the view is spectacular or the conditions are something special, I can be as guilty as anyone of this but it usually results in average photos at best.
On my workshops, I try and encourage people to consider what it was that attracted them to the scene and how they might best capture it. Identifying the elements that are most important and how to arrange them in the frame while excluding anything that isn't adding anything. Making decisions in other words. Sounds good in principal but it is rarely that easy, the natural world usually refuses to arrange itself exactly how we want it and we have to compromise and choose what is more important... more decisions.
Of course it's how we choose to arrange things in our images that is the important part. Experience teaches us what works in certain situations and what doesn't, but it is also the opportunity to be creative, experiment, be bold, put our own stamp on the image and let our personality shine through.
I'm not sure what my tendency to make things small in the frame reveals, it's best not to think about some things.