Taking the time to think.

Ask yourself, as you are looking through the viewfinder, “why do I want to take this photograph? What is it that is compelling me to create an image?” If you cannot answer the question, then don’t take the photograph.

Cranbrook from Hatters Cottage
Cranbrook from Hatters Cottage

A good illustration of this comes from a commission I had a couple of years ago. I was asked to produce some black and white images of the Kent town of Cranbrook in Southern England. I’ll skip the long part of the story and get straight to the part where I entered the third floor room of Hatters Cottage which I had been told had the best view of Cranbrook including the windmill; a view that had not changed in over two hundred years. On entering the room I looked to my right out of the window across the rooftops, and it took my breath away. For half an hour, in the fading evening light, I struggled to make an image that captured my emotional reaction, and I kept failing. So I stopped and thought about my own advice. And then it dawned on me: a large part of my reaction was based on the view from the room. If I was to create something memorable, the image had to include not only the view, but the room from which it was seen. Technically a bitch to capture, but the result was what I had felt. 

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