The reason I keep coming back to this topic is because it is a fundamental concept that I feel cannot be stressed enough. So many times I see images that are cluttered and “messy” and distract the viewer from what is important within the frame. We are the storytellers here and we must remember this when putting our work out there to be seen. Our images are our voice and represent who we are, what we enjoy and ultimately how we see the world. Whenever we post an image online be it Facebook, Flickr, 500px, G+, etc. these images are seen, critiqued and ultimately, the photographer is judged before he or she has a chance. Make this judgement a good one and leave the viewer wanting more.
Before jumping into the images critique below I would like to elaborate a bit more on emptying the frame. We see the world in real time and 3D. Our eyes act as a wide-angle lens allowing us to take in so much and process it instantly. What we don’t realize without practice is how this scene would look when we freeze time and hit ‘pause’. This is what we must learn as photographers: stop and think about everything going on when taking your picture and choose what you are trying to say with your image. Remember your initial vision and if the main element to your frame is the human element, photograph the scene in a way that emphasizes that person. If you are photographing a mountain peak, look for only the elements that will draw the eye to your intended focal point. You have complete control to include and exclude what you want.
In the images below I am wanting to showcase their strengths and weakness’. Both photos were taken in Rocky Mountain National Park during a winter workshop I was working. Myself and the lead instructor were asking the participants to work with leading lines on the frozen lake to lead the eye toward the magnificent peaks in the distance. The first image is a horizontal that shows so much natural beauty we might jump to this image to be our “one”. What do you think? Is this image strong enough to make it into our main gallery? Sure, it’s a good image: strong elements, beautiful location and great light. The main issue here is that it is showing too much. There is too much going on to make this image as strong as we would like it. It is not simple enough.
Now take a minute and think, “how would this image look as a vertical?” While shooting this scene I was going back and forth between horizontal and verticals knowing I wanted to have as many options once I returned home as possible. After working both in Lightroom the winning image for me was clear. I knew I wanted to keep things tight with the focus in the center of the frame and that the most interesting element within the frame was not the trees or mountains to the left and right of the main peaks. It was also not the ‘ocean’ of ice in the foreground. The strongest element in this photo was the amazing peaks bathed in gorgeous light shrouded in dramatic clouds. The means of drawing the eye here was to utilize the cracks in the ice to their fullest potential.
Ultimately, when choosing what to include within the frame try to keep in mind what it is you are truly wanting to show. Work from the inside out and evaluate each element within the frame one at a time. Determine how each piece of the puzzle will ultimately fit together to produce the end result that reflects your initial vision. Keep pushing and working and make each image count.