Photo InSight – Making Sense of the Madness

*Photo InSight is a new segment that I’m debuting on the blog. I envision it becoming a collection of lessons that I’ve acquired from shooting over the years. I do not presume to share things that are groundbreaking or unique. These are personal insights that I hope will improve the signal-to-noise ratio of photography-related content on the web.

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A scene from the procession held during the annual fiesta in honor of the Sto. Niño (child Jesus).

Street photography can be daunting and overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out. The moment you step into a crowded street a ‘sea’ of life just comes at you. And if you’re not ready to navigate your way through the chaos, you can very easily dissolve into the crowd.

I usually position myself on the edge of the throng. This way I can survey the scene while having the option to step in and join the flow or step out and allow it to pass. I line up the elements I want in the frame and wait for the people to enter the scene. However, when the scene is too crowded, giving order to your composition becomes a bit more complicated.

In the picture above, I spotted the child on the motorcycle, but he was facing the other way. As luck would have it, one of the houses along the procession route set off  fireworks as the statue of the Sto. Niño passed by, which definitely caught the attention of the curious toddler. I waited for him to turn and gaze up into the sky. The look of awe on his face is, as they say, icing on the cake.

Placing him in the middle of the frame anchors the picture. It gives the image a focal point that draws the viewer in. This would just be another diffuse picture of a busy street without the little boy in it. Your eye may explore the rest of the frame, but you will find yourself going back to its very center.

When faced with a busy scene, find an element to anchor it and allow it to give structure to the disorder.

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