Look behind you!

With panto season fast approaching, it’s time to get in the swing…oh no it isn’t.  I’ll explain myself after the jump…

I’ve been catching up on some recorded TV and was watching “How To Take Stunning Pictures” on Channel 5.  For the uninitiated, the format goes something like this: two amateur photographers who want to improve in a certain field are chosen.  They bring some photos with them and show them to a pro, who then gives them a master class in their subject.  The two improvers are sent off on an assignment and at the end they have to present their best shots to the pro.  The pro then critiques their photos and shows them which of the photos is their favourite.  There has been plenty written about the content of the programmes on discussion forums and I’m not going to give any opinion about them here.

But something in the Landscapes episode resonated with me.  Charlie Waite was advising his students to look behind them to assess what the clouds and light were going to do so they could pick their moment to make the shot and not to rush off if there was something that might be worthwhile approaching.

It’s great advice and I’d take it further.  When you think you’ve nailed the shot you saw, look around you anyway, not just at what the light and weather are doing but at the scene around you.  Quite often I’ve found that, while I’ve been focussed on getting one particular scene, things have changed around me and I’ve either missed or nearly missed something else, just as good or better.  It might be that some people or animals have moved.  Perhaps someone is doing something funny, iconic or newsworthy for just a moment.  Or maybe the rain cloud is just about to pass and flood the scene you’re shooting with gorgeous light as you’re packing up your tripod.  

A recent example of this for me was the shot from Ben A’an which I’ve written about recently (the shoot and the post-processing).  I nearly missed this gorgeous light because I was concentrating on another shot in the opposite direction.  I made sure I had a good look around before I changed location and it paid dividends.

So take the blinkers off, take a step back and look around.  You might be inspired by what you see.