Years ago, I had the opportunity to hear a National Geographic photographer speak at a conference. Besides admiring his beautiful work, his core message has always stayed with me. When you’re looking for the perfect image, remember not to shoot the obvious view. Take a look around; the better shot may be behind you or off to the side. In other words, consider every angle and always be on the lookout for the more interesting capture.
Yes, it sounds obvious and simple, but if you reflect on what we typically see shared online, the same images cascade our daily feeds. Undoubtedly, there’s a reason for that consistency; there are simply some venues that are so visually pleasing that we succumb to the opportunity. It’s a challenge to step back and think about what else you can frame to provide another point of view.
Sometimes it simply means being ready to capture an unplanned shot. I try to follow this principle — and occasionally succeed. A few weeks ago, I rode the train to Providence, RI to attend a party. My husband was meeting me in front of the train station, which happens to face the Rhode Island state capitol building. When I exited the station, my full focus was on finding him. As I dashed over to jump in the car, I happened to look up and noticed that the evening sky was just emerging and the statehouse’s white stone profile was majestic in contrast. I pointed to the building and took out my iPhone for a quick capture, which I would have otherwise missed.
So take a look around, whether photographing the obvious or focused on another task. There’s always another view — and sometimes those are the most valued.