What's The Most Important Thing About An Image?

I just returned from teaching a workshop in Plymouth, MA that was expertly organized by my friend Amy Davis. Thank you Amy for setting up such a wonderful event. And . . . thank you to all the participants who joined the photo fun. I can't wait to be there for our August workshop - and more lobster rolls!

We shot in a several locations and covered landscape, HDR and fill-in flash photography. The group learned how to use reflectors and diffusers - and how to see the light. We shot sunrises and sunsets. We even had an opportunity to paint with light. Yes! We also downloaded our images, enhanced them in Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, and had a group slide show.

My favorite location was the "mansion," and my favorite shot from that location leads off this post. I call it, "The Girl in the Red Dress."

I took the shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 17-40mm lens. I used an Induro tripod to steady my camera. All my gear is on my Gallery and Gear page.

Everyone got a very similar shot, by the way. Great job!

The photograph prompted me to ask the participants, "What's the most important thing about the image?"

Responses included:
- location
- subject
- subject within a subject
- color
- depth of field
- drama
- subject's pose
- and of course lighting, which was simply natural light streaming through an open door behind the subject.

All these elements added to the photograph, no doubt. However, I feel the most important part of the photograph - any photograph - is the idea. That's where it all starts . . . not with shutter speeds and f-stops and HDR programs, etc. It's all about the idea.

So my friends, keep this thought in mind: It is your ideas that will separate you from the crowd - not your gear.

Put on your thinking caps! :-)

Speaking of ideas, here is an idea I had while looking at my photograph, "The Girl in the Red Dress." Give yourself a self-assignment: over the course of several months, or even a year or more, take pictures for a themed project. That is what I am doing, as you can see from my photograph, The Girl in the Black Dress."

Explore the light,

P.S. Here is another tip, which is probably obvious by now: The subject's face does not always need to be visible in a photograph. I took this photograph, "The Girls in the Colorful Dresses," in Panama.