Of Colors and Layers – Making a Photograph Interesting

It is true that sometimes we photographers are asked to make images of an event or activity that we might not consider to be too visually interesting or appealing. But it is our jobs as visual communicators to bite the bullet and to try to show our daily, mundane, pedestrian world in an interesting manner regardless of the subject matter.

Mind you I’m not trying to take away from the importance of an event. But assignments can be clearly divided into visual and non-visual. We can accomplish this by utilizing tools such as layering, juxtaposing of elements and learning how to utilize the full impact of colors in an image.

Here we have three different circumstances:

  • The Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure. Basically this is people walking for three days through different settings some rural, some urban. I am not given three days to illustrate this story. So I had to figure out a way to show something visually common (people walking) in an interesting way.In this case while I was trying to locate the walkers I came upon them around a curve on the road and as I parked across the street I noticed the reflection in the rear-view mirror and the pattern distortion occurring because of the effects of the optics of the lens I was using — a 70-200mm 2.8 with a 1.4 TC — and the reflection in the mirror and the yellow and white lines painted on the street. The result is a fairly interesting image.
  • In the second case I was asked to make a photo(s) at the annual Puerto Rican Festival, in Dorchester. The problem was that usually when I got this assignment in the past, it is for it to be shot in the middle of the day where there are not that many people due to the sweltering mid-day summer heat.
    The other factor here is that this two-day festival is known for the hordes of people showing up on Sunday… never on Saturday. Yet it is still my job to show an image that may capture a bit of the essence of celebration, of pride, and the sense of the place and of its people and to do this fairly quickly.
    I found these two clowns playing a guessing game with children as they gave away free midway rides. I tried several different ways of documenting the scene but none was as effective and sophisticated as the one shown here. There is an immediate flow of information being passed on to the viewer by the flag, then you look at the clowns and finally at the overall scene.
  • The last image is of the Bastille Day Celebration a couple of weeks back. This one was a bit tougher since this basically was documenting a “gathering” of people.This is much harder to do unless there are extravagant or strikingly unique looking characters or activities. None of these applied here.
    Earlier I had noticed the adornments on the rail at the entrance to this building and the garlands hung around the door and how the light from inside spilled out a bit into the waning evening.
    It was only a matter of time to wait, observe and to be ready when all elements aligned themselves into what I consider to be an interesting array of moments, layering, and composition.