Beside giving tips on commercializing photography, during the BCF 2011 Jerry Aurum also shared his practical tips on how to create a good photography. It is based on his own experience in servicing various commercial photography assignments.
Now I’m not saying I got Jerry’s word down to detailed sentences but I believe I got the pointers correct, and filled in what I don’t remember in precise details with my own awareness of the subject.
Jerry Aurum’s Good Photography Tips:
Create an artistic and tasteful composition, and have components of the picture supports each other in a composition.
How to attain the artistic sensitivity? By continuous learning and exercises, there’s no shortcut.
Determine how much white spaces required in a photo, and where. Jerry took example of how regular photographers used to aim the center of his photo on eyes, leaving a lot of unnecessary white space above the head, creating imbalanced composition.
The cure for this imbalance white space lies in removing the habit of placing your subject at the centre; use it sparingly when situation calls to. Else go with the rule of one-third (read below) and put only the necessary amount of white space around your subject.
Don’t fixate your photo subject in the dead center, moves it a little to the side or more, to create dynamic balance. Jerry took example of his photo on Ade Rai in his bedroom, which shows the famous Indonesian body builder sitting on the right part of the photo, thus enhancing the bulky effect his muscle emanates.
Focus on the eyes first, then compose it
If you want to have a sharp looking picture, establish an eye contact and fix your focus on the eyes of the subject. What Jerry discovers is that though a picture is having a narrow depth of field (have a mix of a little sharp with a lot of blurred areas), if the eyes of the subject is focused, then people would most likely sees the picture as focused.
How to accomplish it? Jerry suggested to apply a technique called “focus lock”, which involving you focus on the eyes then press the shutter button of the camera halfway (to attain focusing) then without releasing the shutter button, move the center of your photo anywhere to attain a good composition. This way the focus will stay on the eyes though a more closer or distance objects is included inside the composition later on.
Have your composition to create a triangle. Jerry mentioned that triangle put life into a static composition. He also mentioned that the best poses photo models give usually forms a triangle using their body parts, e.g.: put a hand on hip thus making the arm forms a triangle, sitting flat on the floor but raising one leg so the foot forms a triangle.
Frame inside frame
Use the in-picture element as a frame to the subject. Jerry gave example of his photo on Flores children, where they’re pictured with a wooden fence in the background, and shadows of coconut trees on the sides, which practically provides the imaginary frame, inside the actual frame formed by the borders of the photo.
Both the photographer and the subject needs to be relaxed to capture a picture that’s alive. Jerry mentioned that’s why Indonesian nude or semi nude photography rarely produces impressive picture, is due because the photographer (which are usually male) could not put himself into a relaxed mood upon facing the models (which usually are half or full naked women); thus makes them both feel uneasy which resulted in stiff looking pictures.
It’s not necessary to smile
Smiling subject is not mandatory. Jerry gave example of his photo on one Indonesian celebrity who wasn’t smiling but the expression on her eyes speaks her current mood really well.
To add tips from Tyra Banks on her show “America’s Next Top Models”, she often suggests models to “smize”; smile with their eyes.
Pose could create a different outcome of a picture; good pose enhance the aesthetic quality, while also enables it to correctly deliver the underlying idea or concept. Don’t be afraid to go extravagant should it requires to.
Timing, timing, timing
Good timing put the added value into a picture, or even speaks the very message it tries to say. Jerry gave example of his photo on a Flores kid running on the beach with on of his feet half flying, and one of his feet half submerged in water. It creates the necessary feeling of movement, whereas should he had the timing wrong the movement feeling wouldn’t be there.
One third rule
It’s the golden rule of composition design: put your main subject on the one third height of a picture, either from top or bottom (or from left or right), as it will creates the dynamic balance. Jerry gave example of a photo of a small island which he took from the water level after he dived; he put the island at the one third height from the bottom to give way for a beautiful blue sky showing.
Low angle photography gives a refreshing (and different) look of a scene. Jerry showed example of his photo about an outdoor seating area where he took the picture close from the feet of the chairs, giving an interesting outlook.
Either natural or man-made pattern makes a good picture composition, or background.
Look for a pattern in regular situations. Jerry took example of his photo on ducks swimming in a lake, which is one of his favourite composition ever.
Macro shots gives an “out of this world” appearance, even from regular objects.
Isolate your photo subject to make it stands out. A narrow DOF (depth of field) is usually your best friend in doing so.
Horizon should be level
A level horizon gives a sense of familiarity to the viewer, while otherwise a tilted horizon looks very strange.
Don’t be afraid to have distortion; use it extremely to create an outspoken composition.
It’s ok to shot against sunlight
It’s not a taboo to take your picture against the sunlight; you could have an interesting looking silhouette instead.
Look for reflection
Reflection of an object often is more interesting than the object itself. Jerry gave example of a picture of a historical building he took, from its reflection on a nearby’s modern full-glass windowed office building.
Provide human as scale reference for big objects
Should you are taking photos of a very large objects, e.g.: gigantic boulders, very large trees, giant mining trucks, it’s best to provide human reference so viewers could have a good comparison of how big the actual size of the object is. Jerry gave example of a photo he took on the beach of Belitong island where there are gigantic boulders the size of a house, with a human subject stands in the near background.
“Underwater photography is out of this world”. Nuff said.
Humour is magical
Funny picture, or picture containing humour usually works well in capturing viewer’s attention.
Digital imaging as needed
Digital imaging is not a taboo; if it is added to create intentional special effect. Just make sure that you understand when to call yourself a photographer, and when to call yourself a photoshopper.
Whatever tasks you’re on, try to have fun; it shows on your picture.