Learning to lighting has done a lot for my photography. It’s not just gaining a new appreciation for light of all kinds, but also the fact that lit photographs have cause me to think about photographs differently. I used to be a much more reactive photographer – I would just be waiting for moments to happen in order to capture them. Now, I’ve become a little more thoughtful about what I want to the end picture to look like, even in situations that are fairly fast moving. Improving my grasp of composition is definitely something that I am working on.
My favorite book on photographic composition was Photographic Composition by Tom Grill and Mark Scanlon. At least it was until I read Michael Freeman’s The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos.The entire first chapter is all about framing, which is the most extensive treatment that I’ve seen so far. In addition to a treatment of the usual compositional elements, there’s also a chapter on design basics, which I definitely needed some help with (and probably still do). Perhaps the best chapter of all is the last one on process, where Freeman walks through a case study or two, showing how he prepared and then composed a picture in a photojournalistic setting. Learning someone else’s thought process always seems to yield a bump up for me, much more so than just learning the straight mechanics.
Of course, with all things photographic, it’s not enough to read the book and understand it. The trick is putting it all into practice.