Wednesday, September 17, 2014


This tip on extracting the uncommon from the common is a preview to what you will read in my upcoming book, Right Brain Photography (be an artist first). It begins with understanding that when viewers see our photography, our art, they were not there. We can take advantage of that obvious fact. Given that advantage, we can create illusions. When people see our images out of context, they will try to fill in the blanks: What am I looking at? What's happening here?

There are several key points which I go into detail in my book abut making the common uncommon. In this piece, however, I will just summarize some of the key elements. It begins with not just looking at what our eyes see, but also what they don't see. To accomplish that requires some creative photography detective work. 

Here is a real-life scenario. I was on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado. I was among several admirers who were impressed with a musician who used wine glasses to create classical music, like Mozart's compositions. I asked him what he called his instrument, the glasses. He said this form of music is over 300 years old and the instrument is called a Glass Harp.

So, from a photography perspective, here is how I got from here to there. I first befriended him, asked questions about his art, and complimented him on his unique music. I also dropped a tip in his jar. Once I broke the ice and felt a sense of comfort and trust, I started shooting from different perspectives. The key camera features and photographic principles I was constantly focusing on included: lighting, necessary f/stops, shutter speeds, ISO, and exposure compensation. It was one of those rare moments when I did not use a tripod, to  allow me the freedom to quickly adjust my perspectives. I used ISO 640 in order to get fast shutter speeds, which compensated for not using a tripod.

Let's start with what I saw with my eyes. This is a good photo, but just a simple snap shot.

Now, here are three variations of those glasses. I was no longer photographing "glasses." 
I was looking at form, shapes, color, light, etc. Try to imagine what you would have thought if you had not seen the photo above.

Seen out of context, these glasses seem to go on forever--that was the idea. It is also impossible to know where these glasses are and why there are so many of them.

For this one, I included the human element. Including the hands in the image adds mystery because the viewer doesn't know why those hands are there or what they're doing. I intentionally added the larger glasses in the foreground in this photo, and the one above, to add a touch of mystery and perspective.

I chose a horizontal for this one, to draw attention to the larger glasses in the foreground. This perspective also picked up several colorful reflections, which, again, add that touch of mystery--what am I looking at? What is that bright orange-like area between the two larger glasses?

So, next time you come across a group of glasses, ask yourself, "Besides glasses, what else do I see?" How can I make the common uncommon? Exercise your right brain.