Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moving things around

A lot of travel photography is done in a documentary style. You record what's happening while it's happening without affecting the action too much. You're just there to record the goings-on in a (hopefully) artistic and insightful way.

But that's not always the case. Sometimes you have to create the images, rather than just waiting and hoping they'll happen.

A perfect example is this piping hot bowl of Ramen noodles in Japan. This little town in the middle of nowhere is famous (at least in Japan) for its Ramen noodles. Well one restaurant is.

The result of being a very famous, very tiny restaurant set in an old train station is that it gets very crowded. And with the smoking laws in Japan being pretty lax (ie non-existent) it gets pretty smokey. So rather than brave the inside we decided to sit outside on this gorgeous old wooden table with the train station in the background.

The staff nearly had a fit. It was cold for one, and two in all the years they'd been open they'd never had customers sit outside. Go figure. Anyway they brought us out our famous Ramen noodles. It was very photogenic sitting there in the middle of the table but it needed something to make it better.

The first thing I realised was that I wanted the name of the train station (Yamubetsu) in the background, as well as the rounded wagon wheels so I moved my Ramen over to the middle of the table. I then realised there were a couple of big obstacles in the way - namely my wife and her Dad.

So I banished them to the other end of the table so I could get my photo. Just small adjustments that help make an image. The mistake a lot of beginning photographers make is that they're scared to move things around. To ask if it's OK to put this thing over there, or ask this person to come into a better light for a photo. Don't ask and you don't get!

So the next time you come up against a great subject but it's in the wrong light or position, don't wait for providence to move it for you. Get up and do it yourself.

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