As detailed in the first instalment in our ‘Eye for Photography’ blog post last month, we analysed the gaze of different genres of pro photographers compared to how an amateur photographer took the same kind of shot.
Andreas Schmidt is a German-born photographer, specialising in architecture and travel photography. Laurent Baheux is a French nature and animal photographer, who has spent eight years photographing African wildlife. Finally, Duncan Soar is a British event photographer, who regularly shoots award ceremonies, corporate events and private parties.
Will Painter, our amateur photographer, has a keen interest in photography, but has never received any official training. Like many amateurs, his experience and techniques have been based on trial and error.
All our pros took their shots alongside the amateur under the same test conditions, using the same camera – a Nikon D5100.
Below, we compare the differences between the amateur and pro photographer in each scenario and provide some fascinating insights into what makes a good eye for photography.
Take your time: Pros take three times as long as an amateur
Professional photographers take a lot more time to get a good image – when left to walk around and find the best angle it took our pros an average of 10.22 minutes to get an image that they thought best captured the scene – three times longer than our amateur. Similar results were found when looking at how long our photographers spent getting their shot once they had found the best angle.
Duncan Soar explains, “The key to successful event photography is ensuring that the people in your shots are interesting and come alive in your image. While it can be fairly easy to spot a good composition, it can take a while to capture an expressive moment from your subject.”
Get more shots: Pros consider over three times as many different shots of a scene
It is all too easy to concentrate on one area of your scene that you think will make the best shot and miss other great photo opportunities. Across the three scenes our pros consistently looked at a greater number of different shots than our amateur, with the latter considering eight potential shots compared to 29 for the pro. That is over three and a half times more opportunities to get that great shot out of one scene.
Look up, look down, behind and underneath
One of the most noticeable ways in which the amateur and pro photographer differed was where they looked to set-up their frame. Our professionals explored every possible angle, for example the travel photographer went behind some beach huts in his set-up in case there was something interesting to capture, while the nature photographer went off the beaten track into the bush for a more obscure take on the surroundings. The event photographer even spent time looking at the ceiling of the venue because it had a curve that he thought might frame the shot well.
Andreas Schmidt comments, “If you really look at your scene and explore it from all angles you might discover a set-up that will give you an interesting perspective on an area you are shooting. This is particularly important when you are trying to capture everyday scenes because it will make shots more original.”
Less is more
The pros’ final images all focused on one specific part of the scene they were capturing whereas the amateur was consumed with trying to fit everything in to illustrate the whole scene.
Work with what you have got
The pros were very quick to adapt to the conditions of each scenario and work the conditions to their advantage. The travel photographer contrasted the bright beach huts against the dreary weather conditions, and explored the combination of natural and man-made structures. He also considered various set-ups which included umbrellas because they added an interesting shape to an otherwise simple image.
Laurent Baheux comments: “Wherever you are shooting, you need to consider all your surroundings, not just the subject of your photo but influencing elements like natural light. As I am always shooting outside, I like to look for light shining on the trees as it creates a beautiful effect when it bounces off lakes and leaves.”
We hope you find the tips from our pros helpful, but what’s your view? After reading these tips do you think having an eye for photography is something you’re born with or now something you can learn? Have you got any tips of your own you’d like to share with other Nikon fans? Let us know using the comments box below!