Connecting with your subject
The most compelling photos are those that create a connection between your subject and your viewer. This not only applies to wildlife photography, but just about every other type, such as portrait, wedding, human interest, travel, Photojournalism, etc.
As the old cliché goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”, so make sure your viewer connects with your image right from the get go.
The most effective way to create that connection is to maintain eye level with your subject, I am always amazed by how so many people will take images from a standing position without regard to their relative eye level to their subject. I see this all too often when judging competitions at local photo clubs.
For example, a beginning photographer will go to a local park or botanical garden to shoot some of the very tame and accessible waterfowl on a local pond, they will stand at the bank of said pond and as the birds are accustomed to being fed, they will approach. While standing the photographer will let it rip and take a bunch of images.
Unfortunately most, if not all, of those images will be very uninspiring. Why? Because they will show the subject while you are looking down at it, with hardly any eye contact. Without that eye contact it will be very difficult for the viewer to make a connection to the subject of your image. Also we are all accustomed to seeing ducks and other waterfowl from a standing position. An image that presents an unusual or fresh view on a subject has a better chance of having an immediate impact on the viewer, hence a good first impression.
Getting down low, very low, even lying down on the ground, to get at eye level is crucial in this situation in order to get an eye level shot.
In the two images shown accompanying this tip, I was in such a park, where the birds were tame and accustomed to humans. They would get very close looking for a handout.
I was lying down on the ground, with my lens on a beanbag getting shots as close to eye level as I possibly could. Being eye level to the Wood and Ruddy ducks present images of subjects that are engaged with the viewer and as such they are much more attractive and appealing; hopefully images that connect with the viewer.
We're excited to have Juan Pons as one of our instructors at this year's California Photo Festival, October 12-16, 2011! Juan will be here teaching wildlife photography, video DSLR techniques and more!
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Get more tips from our festival instructors by visiting our California Photo Festival Page