Article by Paula Barrett, IABC Waterloo
As communicators, we must think visually. With the demands placed on us by visual-based social channels, we need to develop an artist’s eye. Local communicators learned these lessons first-hand at our recent DIY Photography workshop at Steckle Heritage Farm, thanks to local artist Wendy Angel.
Our IABC Waterloo workshop served up nature’s best inspiration: an original barn built in 1840, lovely gardens and adorable farm animals. Here are some highlights so you too can make your pictures pop.
- Get closer. Fill the frame with the best stuff. According to Wendy, this is probably the biggest improvement you can make to your compositions. Most people don’t get in close enough to their subject matter. What are you taking pictures of? Get up close. Now go even closer. It’s ok to crop off the edges when you frame the picture – and quicker than having to crop it later. “Cropping in close when you take the picture results in less boring, pedestrian shots,” says Wendy.
Check out the drastic difference between these “before” and “after” images from IABC member Jennifer Kyle:
- Change your point of view. Crouch down. Tower over. Take two steps to the left or right. Angle your camera. Little point of view changes will help in so many ways. Wendy reminds us that a two-year-old sees the world much differently than a grown up sees it. She also suggests taking photos from multiple angles and orientations so you have maximum flexibility for use on documents and social media.
Here’s a slight – and I think much improved - change in viewpoint in one of my farm pics (featuring IABC member Carol Stares). Lemonade, anyone?
- Tic tac toe. Think in thirds. Want that whole building or entire waterfront in a panoramic view? Then don’t put the horizon smack dab in the middle of the frame. Think about a tic tac toe grid. Ask yourself what is more interesting here: the sky or the ground? Make that important element take up most of the real estate. The same goes for your subject matter. Wendy suggests we think outside of that middle tic tac toe square and place the key element on one of the intersecting lines instead of smack dab in the middle of the grid.
My “after” pic of Carol follows this rule as well. She’s not in the centre in the after picture, which makes the picture so much more interesting and unusual.
In this next pic, IABC member Kaitlyn Holbein places the silo slightly to the left of the centre grid as well as slightly out of focus. The result? A much more engaging and nuanced image.
In this terrific turkey shot, IABC member Fernando Carneiro crops in close on his subject, leaving part of the bird out of the frame and placing the focal point – the turkey’s eye – in the top row of the grid instead of at centre.
So, three simple tricks that don’t require a special lens, but, more importantly require us to adjust our own mental lens before we snap. Thanks Wendy, IABC and Steckle Heritage Farms. Consider my inner artist officially channeled.
Author: Paula Barrett served as President of IABC Waterloo for the 2016/2017 Board year and has been a member of IABC for 25 years. Paula is a Professor of Public Relations at Conestoga College.
Workshop facilitator: Wendy Angel worked in the advertising industry as an art director and illustrator for over 25 years and ran her own creative venture. Her credits include campaign work for major corporate clients, as well as creative direction for several magazines and books. Currently she is teaching drawing and design courses to the new generation of up and coming creative types at Conestoga College.