Mark Sanders, who’s photograph was part of the Tale of Two Tunnels article a couple of weeks back, must have the greatest job in the world. Browsing through his photostream at Flickr is a window into his experiences. He has been afforded some of the most interesting perspective on cultures all over the world, including this shot – Closing the Door – which he describes as: “Closing the cargo doors on the C-130 before taking flight into Baghdad from Ali Al Salem airbase in Kuwait”.
Opportunity is, of course, a large aspect of a great photo. Mark, of course, has had some great opportunities. So our first lesson is if you aren’t automatically given such experiences, you should go out and take them – kicking and screaming, until they scream ‘uncle’.
This photo exhibits the silhouette style of photography. Typically, you’d see this style in sunset photos, where the subject is placed between the camera and the sun. It’s not an uncommon style, but to find original concept or a well done shot like this one is uncommon. What makes this shot unique is the fact that nearly everything in the shot is in silhouette. The only definition are the subtle highlights around the edge of each person and some of the cargo. This is generally a low-key image, except that the high-key areas are so bright. What I find really appealing about this shot is the fact that you can look at it for a long time before you start to notice some of the details – such as the fact that there are at least 8 or 9 people in the shot. I also really like the fact that you cannot see any detail outside of the bay doors. That’s important to me, as it makes whatever is beyond a mystery – as if that place has already faded from our minds before the doors are even closed.
For inspiration in silhouette photography, take this page from Mark J. Sanders’ book – it’s not just about sunsets and well-defined subjects. Sometimes, the mystery is just as much – if not more – fun.