Ever wander into a busy market and be overwhelmed with what to shoot? So much chaos going on, it can be intimidating to figure out how to create a nice image. Shop owners hustle by, pedestrians speed down the street, dogs bark in the alley…what to do? Try this approach…photograph the light, not the subject.
Without light, there is no photography. With travel photography I may have a big list of subjects I want to photograph, but sometimes I just throw that out the door, and look for interesting light. A boring subject photographed in stunning light is…stunning. An amazing subject photographed in unflattering light is…unflattering. Seek out interesting light in the scene, and go to that area…don’t worry about the subject. Chances are something interesting will happen in that amazing light.
I found this amazing street scene in Portugal…the incandescent lights added a beautiful warm glow to the street. I was happy photographing the street scene just because of the light. But then a trolley car sped past, and I knew I had my shot. Even better, the car interior was lit with a blue colored light created a complimentary blue-yellow color pattern.
An image from Porto, Portugal. These buildings had potential…but initially the light wasn’t that interesting. But as the sun lowered, shadows were cast across the scene, creating interesting contrast and dimension. Remember, you are photographing the light on the subject…not the subject. Seek out or wait for interesting light in your scene, this awareness takes you beyond just snapshots into creating better images.