Working your subject: a photographic essay

2016_11_10_places_holden-arboretum_0048

Part two of a three part series from Holden Arboretum

When I bought my first digital camera and starting shooting pictures, I didn’t have the faintest idea what I was doing. As I look back in my files at pictures I took in those early years, it is painfully obvious I had a lot to learn.  Because I really wanted to improve, I began reading books about photography and spending a lot of time on the websites of photographers I admire. And I learned…a lot!

One valuable piece of advice I heard early on is “work your subject.” Don’t just take the shot that catches your eye and then walk away, thinking you have captured all there is to see and learn about the subject.  Don’t immediately lift your camera to your eye and shoot off a burst of shots.  Unless the subject, whatever it is, will jump up and dash away, slow yourself down. Take time to walk around and view it from different angles. Try to find the best angles and then shoot from several. If possible, revisit the same place on a different day at a different time. If your first photoshoot was in the morning, come back in the evening. And if you are shooting outdoor subjects like landscapes, trees, and wildlife, try returning to the same location at different seasons throughout the year. You’ll be amazed at the results. Today’s blog post is a gallery of pictures I have captured at one location throughout the past year. Taken together, they illustrate the advantage of slowing down and getting to know your subject.

If you follow my blog, you know that Holden Arboretum is one of my favorite places to shoot. On my frequent visits to Holden, I almost always stop to say “hello” to the golden willow tree at Lotus Pond. The size and shape of the tree and its location make it a focal point of the Pond, and it draws people (and geese) to its neighborhood.

You’ve probably heard that one picture is worth a thousand words, so I will stop “talking” so you can scroll through the gallery to see if you think “work your subject” is good advice for a photographer (Click the first picture to begin your stroll around the golden willow tree).

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, 1913

So there you have it. One tree, rooted in one spot, will have many different moods. Perhaps Joyce Kilmer got it right when he wrote his poem “Trees.” What do you think?

And what do you think about the advice to “work your subject?”
Is it something you already do or will try to do in the future.
Do you have any advice you could give to an aspiring photographer?

Thanks for visiting the golden willow tree with me today.
See you soon.

12 thoughts on “Working your subject: a photographic essay

Add yours

  1. Stunning “study of willow tree!” Great mini-lesson by the way! Over Thanksgiving we have the opportunity to walk some beautiful urban trails in Portland and Spokane. I am taking my Canon Digital and my Samsung phone and my 45 minute walk will likely take twice as long! Thank you for the motivation! What did you say your camera was again?

    Like

  2. Nicely informative and well written. I’m looking forward to taking that time to look at something at all times of the day and different angles come January! Beautiful photos Skip!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the advice and the beautiful photos. It’s lovely to see so many moods and also the way the tree is a stable constant before which many aspects of human life play out.

    I’m a beginning photographer just using my phone to capture images, but you’ve given me food for thought. Thank you:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate the way you described the tree as “a stable constant before which many aspects of human life play out”. Very well said and so true! Thank you. Using your phone is a good way to get started. One really good thing about the phone is that it is always with you. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

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