Be Aware of Your Surroundings

August 05, 2008 / by / 0 Comment

[singlepic=230,200,,,right]Studio photographers are a little spoiled.  They control every aspect of their shot from the lighting to the background.  They can even set the stage before their subject is even present.  Most of us are not studio photographers – or at least we’re not all the time.  So when we’re not in the studio, we get caught up in worrying about light sources, composition, subject material, aperture and shutter settings that we often neglect the simplest of all principals:  Be Aware of Your Surroundings.

Your surroundings not only include the aspects that are part of your photo, but anything that may impact your photo, or your safety.

[singlepic=231,200,,,right] The two pictures at right are shots that I took on a trip to Cape May.  I wish I could tell you that I was just taking test shots or getting used to my camera.  But I can’t tell you that.  My goal, of course, was to get a fairly decent photo of this parked Ferrari.  Unfortunately, neither photo is what I would consider a good photo.  The bottom shot is an ideal angle, though neither is framed very tight.  This is something that would normally be solved with cropping, but lets face it – everything around the car is a less than ideal backdrop.

I could live with the stairs behind the car.  I could even crop out a portion of the road and the closely parked car.  But in  both shots, I neglected to account for the other people who are also obviously interested in the car.  Even a crop won’t cut them out of the picture.  And leaving them in has no editorial merit.  Sadly, I didn’t realize this oversight until I had these photos on the big screen.

I managed to do one thing right, however – I stayed safe.  As you can tell, this is parked right on the street.  To get the ideal angle with the right lighting, I happen to be at a great angle.  Ideally, I would use a shorter focal length, but that would place me in the road.  This particular safety issue is incredibly easy to spot and avoid.  But not all pitfalls are so obvious.  Especially if you’re photographing in natural environments, always be sure of your footing and anything that threatens your space.  This includes things above you.

Shoot safe and shoot well.  


About the Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.