Those of you that know me understand that I love movies. I love traveling to filming locations to make a series of themed photos based on a particular show or movie. Here's the hitch: Tons of other people do, as well.
So, it comes down to this: How can I make MY series of photos look a little different, or more interesting, than what everyone else may be shooting? There's a couple of ways right from the start to accomplish this. I'll use some photos from my current photo series for some examples. It's a Harry Potter themed shoot. The whole project will be up on the site in mid-February.
First, I want to talk about Angles. I touched on angles a little in a previous blog. Always try to find an interesting angle for composition; be it standing on top of something (be safe), crouching down, or just exploring the space to just to see what kind of composition you can get. For example, there was a very crowded spot in front of Hogwarts Castle that would have made a nice snapshot with a large crowd walking around, but it was not what I was going for with my series. I wanted the focus to be more on the town, not the crowded streets. With that in mind, I found a small rock wall I could climb on to shoot the snow covered roofs of the buildings, therefore giving it a more "lonely winter evening" feel. I was able to capture the buildings, rooftops, and sky with a much less busy look, at an angle where I'm not shooting up at everything.
Next, let's touch on Details. This is one of my favorite aspects. When doing themed shoots, you certainly want to get the main attractions and instantly recognizable places that are signature aspects to the movie or show. In the instance of Harry Potter, Hogwarts Castle or Diagon Alley.
These shots are a given. BUT, it's the small details that I think set a lot of my photos apart from the standard, landscape-style pictures above. Look in windows. Peek around corners. What does the lighting look like on certain objects during certain parts of the day? What shadow might a certain object cast on a wall or street that might be interesting? Here are a couple shots that I believe most would have passed by. I found these by peering into shop windows and picking out one or more interesting items to focus on, as opposed to bigger subjects like the landscape shots above.
If you want to create a compelling series of photos that brings a fictional or themed world to life, you can take photos of key points (of course), but also bring to light what the inhabitants of this world may deal with everyday. A desk a where a character does his daily work. Old measuring tape. A stack of worn books. An old candlestick. Items that show this place has been truly lived in. The more attention to detail you show with both large and small things (although you may have to search harder for them), the more believable the world you're creating becomes.
Creating a believable world with your shots by paying extra attention to angles and small details will be what sets your photos apart from everyone else's vacation "snapshots".
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