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Composition Basics

Lesson 6 of 6

Working the Scene

Khara Plicanic

Composition Basics

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

6. Working the Scene


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:03:44
2 Basic Principles Duration:22:33
3 Techniques Duration:11:52
4 Things to Consider Duration:08:40
5 People & Places Duration:08:40
6 Working the Scene Duration:05:22

Lesson Info

Working the Scene

Finally, let's talk about working the scene when you're trying to capture a scene, and that could be, you know, something as simple as breakfast on Saturday morning at your house. Or Or it could be something elaborate, like photographing someone's birthday party or, you know, your your parents 50th wedding anniversary or something. How do you make sure you're capturing at all? The idea is, you want a layer your coverage. So I like to start by paying attention to detail, capturing the small things that are around me, that the help make the story whatever it is, but may go unnoticed by people who aren't really paying attention. So that could be muddy little feet when my son was even younger, you know, we spent a lot of time in his room and, um, just rocking him and holding him and playing. And I looked down and I saw her little feet here and I thought, Well, that's fun. I like the contrast between my feet and his feet, and of course there's that rug again and my crazy stocks. So that was...

a fun detail I wanted to capture, also keeping an eye out for really off script moments. So capturing a wedding where the bride was getting getting ready and I've been focusing on the bride. And then the bride's mother had this very touching, heartfelt moment where she realized her youngest baby was getting married and she just suddenly was overcome with emotion. And I was really paying attention, and I was able to capture that, which was really an unexpected thing that was just happening. And if you keep your eyes open, you'd be amazed what you can see. A lot of times when it comes to kids, just really not even trying to have a script is a very hopeful. So these little guys were enjoying a plate of spaghetti, and I don't think I could have scripted this even better if I had tried that. They're all fighting over, Ah, fork full and the little ones just trying to get in and be included in the action. And I love that he has sauce on his cheek over there, so I couldn't have I couldn't have done that if I tried, and I happened to catch him with the tongue like he's trying to lick it. I just love that on a lot of times when you're taking family pictures, those those toddlers are just very like they suddenly discover that they can have opinions and free will. I made you not want to cooperate. So here the little guys running away from the scene and he's laughing because he knows he's being a booger, and he thinks it's funny. Andi, thankfully, his parents you, too. So they're laughing because it was funny and I caught that moment, and this would have been a throwaway shot if they had been expressing their dissatisfaction with the fact that he wasn't paying attention. You know, they'd had frowning faces if they'd been, like looking exasperated like we're never going to get the photo. Then this would be a throwaway shot, but instead I think it really captured what their life was like in that moment. So there's some fun off script moments. Sometimes the kids just don't want their picture taken it all. And, you know, his mom was standing off camera, trying to bribe in with cookies, threatening him with, You know, I'm going to tell your father you weren't cooperating or whatever, and it just doesn't matter. I think this is really just best left as it is and just capturing a real moment. So when you keep an eye out for those, so, uh, you also want to set the scene? So we've talked about details we've talked about just keeping an eye on what's happening and capturing those off script moments as they come. But you also want to set the scene, and that might mean, you know, using a wider angle to show where the stories taking place. So if you're on a ski trip in the mountains, capture that if you're on a bike ride across the U. S. A. Capture that I think my husband and I did this ride, and a lot of times people would say, you know, that they thought that must be terrible. You were writing on the interstate all that way. But the reality was we were on these little country roads for most of it. So I think it's important that we set the scene. So when we tell the story of our big bike ride, you can really get a feel for what it it was like because it was much more quaint than what a lot of people have in mind. So that's it. Just those five things. If you can just be aware of what you're doing when you are having your camera in your hands, just take a little pause. So you're not quite on such autopilot. We get so tempted to just point and shoot. But if you could just pause, think through these principles, techniques things to consider. Um, we talked about tips for shooting people in places and then working through that thing. You're gonna have much stronger images, and, um, I think you'll be. You'll be really surprised that you confined, and I'd love to see it so you can reach out and say hi to me on Facebook or Instagram and let me know how it's going. So thank you for joining and keep on practicing.

Class Description

Understanding composition and framing is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get a shareable or printable shot. Knowing where to place your subject so that they are the focus of your images and complemented with the background can help you tell a story in each image. 

 This class will cover:

  • Understanding how to fill the frame and the basic rule of thirds
  • How to work with your subject to direct your composition
  • A variety of options to try when troubleshooting your framing  



Khara does a great job! She is thorough, has a great teaching style, uses fantastic examples of the "snapshot" version and the good version. She is enthusiastic, has wonderful explanations. I'm not a beginner and knew everything she said, but still found the way she put it together interesting. I referred several beginners to her courses. I hope she comes out with more advanced courses.

a Creativelive Student

Too often, I hear budding photographers lament, “My pictures aren’t that great because I don’t have a good camera.” Khara dispels this myth with clear examples taken with her cell phone! Of course, good gear helps; but it’s the skill behind the lens that separates a snapshot from a photograph–not the hardware. One caution, however, with Khara’s explanation of the rule of thirds. It is true that the intersection of the horizontal and vertical third is very powerful. Indeed, it is so powerful that it has a name–a bullseye; and you want to avoid it! Seldom will you see a point of interest on a bullseye in any major work. Near it–maybe; but not on it. When an area of interest, like the eye in a portrait, is on the intersection of the thirds, the viewer’s eye is drawn there and it locks into place. Without anywhere to go, the bored eye moves on to something else. Fledgling photographers (and seasoned professionals!) fall into this trap and it would have been prudent of Khara to warn of this danger. Khara does a great job describing tilt and her bird on a wire photograph is an excellent example of dynamic symmetry. While not exactly in the realm of basic composition, dynamic symmetry a powerful concept to explore once the principles outlined in this course are mastered.