how to photograph the same scene differently

6 Ways to Photograph the Same Scene (and How to Work Through a Rut)

Over the years, I’ve been known to periodically get myself into a photography rut. It usually occurs when I feel uninspired (well, duh), or just plain bored with my personal work. I’ve learned how to break-out of it by doing two things. The first is to allow myself a break. I used to judge myself when I didn’t feel like picking up my camera for days or weeks. I used to question my commitment and wonder if I was really a true artist since there were times when I just didn’t feel like taking a photo no matter how good the light was. I soon came to the realization that none of those things were true. Instead, it simply meant that I needed to hit the pause button to allow myself the space to focus on something else- even if that something was nothing- and to let myself be in that space for however long I wanted. I know now that with time my camera and I will inevitably be drawn to each other once again.

The second thing that helps me get back to photography, is to take a new project. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, just something to get me excited, or better yet, challenge me to learn something new. One of the things I’ve always loved to do is to photograph the same subject and scene from multiple vantage points, as well as play with the lighting and processing. It always challenges me to find new perspectives and make different images with a relatively static subject. I say “relatively” but usually I’m photographing children, so I roll with their flow. This is not only a useful exercise for seasoned photographers to practice, but also great for new photographers to see how many different images they can get just from simply moving their body and playing with the light.

So when my six-year old son recently climbed up on the kitchen counter while I was doing dishes, I knew it was a good opportunity for me to practice because he loves laying on the counter (go figure) and would probably stay there for a good long while.

And here are the images I captured that evening:

Taking in the Full Scene: This was my vantage point when I turned right as I washed dishes at the sink and saw him lying up there on the counter. I stood back and photographed the full scene to illustrate how ironic and a bit odd it is that he there. I also played with the processing and converted the image to black and white for a couple reasons. 1) due to the contrast in the image, and 2) I wanted the focus to be on him and not necessarily on the items on counter and all that.

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Side-Lit: I moved to right and shoot him head on so that only one side of his face would be lit and the other half would be in deep shadow.

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Spotlight: I moved back to my left so that I was more square with the light (and his body) so that the light would cast on him from above, as if we was lit by a spot light.

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Back Lit: Once he lifted his head, he blocked the direct light that was cast on him previously and the image became more of a silhouette.

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Side-lit with greater exposure: Similar to the second photo above, this is image is mostly side-lit, but I took a big step back and slightly to the left in order to get more of the scene in the photo. I also changed my camera settings so that more of the scene would be exposed.

Back-lit in Black and White: In the next two images, I played with the processing to create a highly contrasted silhouette.

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Moving in Close to Photograph the Details: I love to shoot hands and feet. That is all. But seriously, I wanted to capture the way his hand was holding the pencil, how the fingers on his other hand curl with concentration, the creases in his feet.

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Oh how I love baby feet! Most of my clients are all too familiar with how I photograph their children’s feet. I love the chubby toes. Does that make me weird? Probably.

So those are my tips for different ways to photograph the same scene. Comment below if you have any other vantage points to add. I can already think of a few. Still next time!