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Building A Photo: Composition

Lesson 25 from: Documentary Wedding Photography: Capturing Reality

Tyler Wirken

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Lesson Info

25. Building A Photo: Composition

Lesson Info

Building A Photo: Composition

Now we're going to talk about, you know, building a photograph, right? So remember, earlier, I forgot what day it was they are starting to roll together now, but when I said I had this one guy was like, tyler likes to build photographs remember when I said that and I'm like, I don't know if that was a compliment or a, uh, or did you know a dis on me? You know, I took it as a compliment, and so what's what's kind of cool is, is that I build stuff, right? I build cars. I worked for my dad, azan electrician's for years, like I said, and, you know, I think that that attention to detail and building things so I've always said, have always said, like, when I when I popped out of the out of the womb, my dad did not give me a football. He gave me a wrench, you know? And we started building things and it's funny how that all that stuff kind of leads into everything you do. And so therefore I used all of those techniques that he taught me, unlike building things and and being really, you know, a...

bout detail and stuff I built, I put this into my photographs as much as I can. Right like there's times and you guys have seen photos of mine you like well, that wasn't built you know, that was just captured because like fleeting moments you know it's really hard but when I have time you know, I am really, really, really particular about building my photographs and putting together all the little pieces to make it work, you know? And so that's what we're going to talk about today on dh and hopefully this will start helping you and it's not just for document the cool thing about today is quite honestly is like it's not today's like not just for the documentary people who want to be documentary photographers like that certainly part of it the little part of it but like these are just like principles that just like applied a good photographs, you know? And so we're going to we're going to talk about that and so one of the things I always talk about is people's eyes right? So have you ever had anybody say to you guys that you have a really good eye all right that no, that doesn't really make any sense when when when people say that because he was that to me like, oh, you have a good eye on like now actually my eyes no different in years, right? I mean really my eyes are no different than yours than yours and yours and yours anybody in this room we all have the same eyes and god did not give me more wires right? Go into my eyes that let me do things differently with them. Okay? I have just trained myself in my mind for my eye's trained my brain to interpret things in a different way, right? So the cool thing about that is when you is when you think about that, you can actually use that to your advantage in building the photograph so your viewer is happy, right? So cartier basan you know, I talked about him a lot. You guys, you guys know who that is, right? The decisive moment like we're talking like the father of this style back in the day when they like one frame to get this perfect image, I highly recommend you look up anything you can videos and interviews, all that kind of stuff. I saw one one interview I listen to it from I think, the seventies or something that and it was just incredible, right? And so what he says is he says that all photography is is satisfaction of the eye, right? Okay, so that's all we're doing, we're just trying to make everybody's eyes happy, okay, so let's think about what makes people's eyes happy, ok, right, so do people like to be in the pitch black dark no right so they like so therefore we know that everybody's eyes when they look at a photograph it's immediately going to go to the brightest part of the photograph, right? Right no matter what that's why advertising agencies like effective ads in my opinion are ones that have, like a huge page of like white space right? And then right in the middle is like there is their message right? Because you because you stop on that because your eye goes right to that big brightness coming out right? So you so so you think about that, right? You then think about why do people wear glasses right? Jim does not like walking around seeing the world out of focus, does he? You know, so people's eyes want things in focus right? So they're always going to look for the thing that sharp okay and s o darkness focus oh, yet people's eyes don't like clutter you guys know where's waldo you guys seem that right driving nuts, right? Why does it drive you nuts? What's the whole point what? It drives you nuts because you can't it's too much to look at there's all this clutter everywhere, right? Your eyes have nothing to settle down and focus on right and so therefore you can use that to your advantage and I certainly do when I'm building my photographs because then I could be like I could direct my viewer's eyes to what I want them to see that makes sense, right? Right okay, in theory, mind you it's not every single shot right? But you start thinking about this stuff and you go from there so with that we're going to have that in our heads right as we go through some of these images, I got a lot of pictures to show surprisingly no words because I use enough of those but so we're going to start with kind of what makes up a good photograph, right? And you know again, like I said, this is not just for wedding photographers it's not just for, you know, you know, documentary waiting photographers is for photographers in general it's for graphic designers like everybody uses these same principles, you know, but for photography it's all about lmc, right? Right light moment composition, you know? And so every photo has to revolve around those those three things, right? So basically, if you don't have at least one of those things, you don't have a photo plain and simple don't shoot it it is pointless. So the idea the key is to get all of those into one, right? So so how do you do that, right? How do you how do you work through that process? So we've learned over the going to start throwing you guys a lesson today to make sure that you guys have been paying attention okay, um if not, I'll throw some matches, right? So, uh but so what's what's the most important out of all three moment in my opinion, right? And some other people's opinion it might not right? So it's like l m c I think works for everything, right? Because even in nyc a portrait photography most people provided say, light is the most important, you know, it just depends on where you're at, but for me, it's moment, right? So so I usually but but the thing is that the moment is one of the hardest things to get right, because they're happening so fast, so I usually start with a light that's where I start, right? Some people started differently. Some people might start with composition, some people might be like, you know, screw you, I like moments I'm gonna gonna do moments I don't care if they're sloppy, right? So I start with light and I'm always that's like that's, like the one thing that I said earlier where I'm like, I'm like, you know, if there's one thing, I find one thing you can't help but to photograph and that's I I don't shoot for myself than I ever did I mention that yet? Um, I don't run around and you know, on a on a daily basis and go take my camera by myself and bond with it and take pictures of things that I never have right? I've always felt like if I were talking today and I was like and you practice yesterday didn't you a little bit with it with the family you were staying you know you're you're friends and you guys went to ice cream and took your camera and you practice a little bit and you're like which was that that was awesome by the way I think that's really great um and uh and you're like you're like I was great is no pressure I could just practice that's always better you know what I'm like for me no like if I don't have the pressure I don't perform like I really I I sit down on my right and I know that's bad but that's just the way it is and so you know I don't run around and I don't practice I don't I don't I don't shoot a lot outside of my work which I which I should I'm sure but so I had my phone in my pocket all the time now right and I'm starting to shoot more with that and um I really it takes a lot for me to bring the camera up and out and to and shoot something and really work at it right? So I started instagram I forgot think I only started instagram last november and so I was actually down in brazil teaching at a seminar and a couple guys that are like, amazing dave goetzman, who works with the christmas christmas studios he's like this an amazing like instagram shooter and I was like, I was like, man, I should do that more you know, I should get on this, you know? And so I think I have like maybe like I have like my instagram followers have gone up from this which is going to cool, right? But now I gotta own up to it and I got to start doing that thing I put like maybe like eighty pictures on instagram or something like that, which is silly but like I use my instagram feed, I had this rule in my head that I'm on ly gonna post interesting photos, right that's all I want to post on instagram and and so therefore it has to be like a really great situation that I want to shoot and I found that like nine times outta ten it always starts with interesting light that draws me to it and then I'm like, okay, I'm going I'm going to work this with my iphone and get a photo of it you know and so and so if you go to my instagram feed andy and you follow me I'm going now that I am doing this I now had to force myself to do more right, which is gonna be a good thing in the end but it's actually like I'm going I want people to hold me accountable and I want people to be like if they see like a crappy photo be like this is not what your instagram feed is about you told me that it was gonna be all good pictures, you know? So so hopefully that'll that'll keep on track but it's the light the light always stops me and I'm like, I have to shoot this like I don't even care if it's just a sunset that I shot five hundred thousand times like like I think I just had to capture light, you know? So it always started light with me usually goes light and then composition and then you wait for the moment to happen, right? That's the process it's a little bit more complicated than that, like it's just not that not that straightforward, but we're gonna go through some photos here. You know, I think I think light moment competition is a pretty easy thing to understand, right? I'm gonna try to I'm not going to like deep into, you know every single solitary type of composition that you could be making there are some general rules, you know, rule of thirds you know, you know things of that nature and I'll talk about that as I go through some of these photos but you know and there's some general practices you need to work on but in essence you just gotta you know I don't want to almost I almost want to guide you too much in that way because I want this to be your own vision when you when you shoot right I wanted to be your own idea of composition and your own idea of good light as opposed to what what I think is right, eh? So we're gonna go through some pictures right? Um love love, love, love, love love this photo right shot it just a few weeks ago in colorado at brady the videographer assistant for my guy brandon it was his wedding and you know, this was her dad had passed away and so that's what they had the wedding in colorado because he's actually buried at the at at the air force base that colorado springs airforce base he's buried out there. So she says, I want to get married car right? Because I want to be as close to my dad as I possibly can and I thought that was really awesome that morning we went to the teo to his grave and it was it was really, really awesome moment, but so his her her brother walked her down the aisle and it was like the light was just the light came, it was cloudy and the rain was coming in and that light came out and I was just like yes, thank you, thank you, thank you. Right? And so all I had to do was make a really interesting composition, right? And that's like a crazy interesting composition but I love this composition, right, it's clean, one of the biggest things is you got to make it clean, okay? You can't have clutter everywhere and we're gonna talk about that stuff today when we go through some photos but there's the moment she's crying and she just looks over at her brother I just love that I love the love the way that this that this leading line kind of the guests which gives it context, this leading line comes down to them, right? I wished I would have been a little bit further back right and gave it a little bit more space. Does that make sense? Because then that leading line would have been even more and they would have been a little bit smaller down in the frame, right? But it was what it was I was at the end, I had nowhere to go backwards. I have the lens I had on it has had to go for it, but that's that's a way that like like that's that rule of thirds right that that we're talking about jimmy asked me about that yesterday I don't know if you had actually question about that that you want me to hit but remember you said you could ask me about that yeah I mean the question basically was when you're shooting so fast and you're trying to make exposure and you're trying to make focus and your shooting very very quickly like kirsten as well she thought she was like I don't even think I can't you know I have to let it be my instinctual orderly it let it be more of an instinctual thing to accomplish the rule of thirds that it is that it's something that you think about when you're in the moment I was going to ask you if that's the same procedure totally yeah right exactly and because that's what I was saying earlier it's like it's like this stuff happens you know, the way I'm shooting on trying to capture these like quick moment you guys saw it yesterday I mean like there's so many things that I almost missed it thank you keep me I got that you know, but yeah, you can't excuse me you can't you can't think about that stuff one hundred percent you need to be thinking about it when you have time, right? And then that stuff will start becoming instinctual right and so you know, one of the things that I'm always saying is you know you know you get better at composition is you shoot pictures every second of every day in your head right? So it drives my wife nuts when we're sitting at a table restaurant or something there's something behind her head that is distracting me I'm always like moving with her trying to get it out of my frame right and she's like turn it off I can't turn it off like it's just that's what I do like I compose pictures all the time right? I remember one time I was walking down a hallway with like you know how you know there's like lights or do you not like it was like there's a pattern that a hallway all these lines right and I was over here I was walking in the hallway and I was a little off center and instinct like I don't even think about it I took a little step into the center right I moved my gladys this morning this kind of drove me nuts I might need to put this back okay right there, right there just kind of makes sense to me right? So I mean like I did that the day you married her room when I did that, you know, and I walked in and I had to move the couch or like I'm just I'm always that's like in me right? You know and I walk into people's houses and I'm like that picture is crooked you know or whatever right you know and it drives me nuts and I learned that um I'm certain I learned that from my dad I just know I did right because you know what electrical conduit is right? We had this conversation dinner they're right you know what electrical conduit is it's right over there? You guys can't see it but you know, like the the the pipe that wires run in you know so you have to you have to it comes in just flat sticks and you had to like use a bender and like, make it it's amazingly hard to do like to bend it over and all these shapes the next time you go into some place and you still this electrical conduit bent in all these ways it's like art trying to make that happen honestly well I put conduit up when I was working for him under a stage right and he looked at it and he goes it's crooked I go I go no it's not he goes yes it is I got dad look and I put my level on it so it's perfectly level he goes but it looks cricket he goes you need to make it crooked to make it look straight like, what are you talking about? You know, right and he's right? You know, because in contractors who build stuff they call that blending right? So when you we built our studio and like it was like in this really old building that is like it's just like a wave almost and we had to make things wrong to make it look right to the eye because you're I was referencing, does that make sense is referencing all that stuff and I'm like, and so I do that you can't do that in photography as well, you know? And the problem is is that you have to be so aware of this stuff when you're shooting because you can't fix it later, right? People are like, oh, just crop it later, right? And I crop like the majority of my pictures, okay, I'll be honest with you, right? People like you crop your pictures, I don't crop him to make photos that weren't there to begin with, right? I cropped them to fine tune the parts that I didn't get done in the field, but there's certain things that you cannot find tune and crop afterwards because you didn't fix it in the frame, right? That makes sense, so I use all of that stuff to be like all those like general knowledge of how to make things look and feel right to make it to make the images all come together you know so you gotta always be aware of that stuff and it's kind of hard to give examples of those kind of things you know it's just kind of it comes down to the photograph so hopefully this is why this segment is before critique right because we're going going to referencing a lot of this stuff during critique and hopefully there'll be situations I'm pretty sure there will are you late to something years I'm pretty sure we're gonna be all right on just getting it I just get I'm actually not kidding but so it's like it's ah it's it's it's all going to kind of come together at that you know so so basically the idea is I want to get lmc every single time right and it's very much very much almost very much it's almost impossible to get that ever personal time but but that's what I strive for right and so my whole theory is is that if I have to out of the three that I'm in good shape the on ly time I shouldn't be the only time I mean the only time that like it really doesn't matter is when there's an amazing moment then I can iike unlike except the fact that there's not a light or a composition right but on the other two it has to be like extremely good light or an extremely awesome composition to only have one out of the three then does that make sense what I just said right just because the moment khun trump everything but like compositions just got back it's got a spot on an interesting yeah so so so we're going to get some examples right? So this is one that that I shot a long time ago this is a ceremony I'm inside the church she's coming down this they I actually got married at this place just funny not in here but at this than you right um my wife and I did some really cheesy portrait's on that bridge they're so right that was back before you know it was it was a young in there then but anyway so what's interesting about this is that um so up up the hill is where the reception is and where the house they get ready so the brightest to walk down across that bridge to get into this t get in this low chapel right? So I was I think I might have been co shooting this wedding I don't remember but I ran down I ran into the church and I saw this window right? So remember my window shots from day one remember those fancy shmancy ones that we're all like leaning over and write you know, I kind of improved my window shots over the years that that's nice to know but what's interesting about this is that almost every single solitary photographer for that shoots at this venue shoots with that window okay and this is years ago but I remember going to a bridal a bridal show that I used to do and I remember like there was two rose you know you guys been to bridle you know you have ever done those before and you just you probably will to get your business going but bridal shows where you go when you save a booth and people come by and you're like hey yeah we're getting married you know they're a necessary evil in my opinion in the beginning but I was there and I looked that's kind of like down this hall down this road and there was like two two different rose so I can see like two booths kind of lined up does that make sense? And there were two photographers that had the exact same photo up in there booth from this venue and it's a couple outside on the bridge through the window right? Okay, like a portrait which is fine that's great whatever I think it's great that they that they thought to go in there but the couple out there right but what's interesting is that every single one that I've ever seen before I shot this one was vertical on the window you see I'm saying so it was just it was just the window right and I walked in there and I immediately now now now granted those lights might not have been turned on so it might not have made a composition for the other people whatever but it's like I immediately saw that that balance right and that symmetry of having that kind of a composition with some negative space you see that you see I mean so so so balance is really important as well you know, we we live in a symmetrical world right? You get a question okay in a second all right, well actually no let's go for take the symmetrical can you talk about shooting portrait versus landscape? It seems like most of your photos are landscape yeah, I'm really glad you asked that because it reminded me to tell you one of the funniest things I've ever heard right about about composition okay, so rachel was like my good friend rachel I've been talking about she's awesome and I was talking to her last night and she she reminded me of this and she says one of her professors one time said that if god intended us to shoot vertical pictures he would have put our eyes like this I think it is like the most amazing thing I wish I could meet that professor right it's just what I mean is totally obviously not true but you know I mean like you know you know it's funny right? So personally I'm I don't I shoot very little vertical right? And I don't know why right? I think you know mainly I think it's because you know, we don't we don't we don't experience the world vertically, right it's like we don't again we don't do that right? We see like this that's how we that's how we're used to seeing the world and so I think that that's how how I naturally then shoot maurin it in a course I say horizontal and vertical, you know and more of a horizontal way you know? And so why? I don't know like vertical just has to make, like, total sense to me like okay, you know, like I'm going I'm going to show angela nevins pictures again later so we can kind of like people can kind of see them a little bit more and there's just the one where her where eli is running towards his mom when she's coming down the aisle that was a vertical right? Because itjust made total sense to make that composition lineup that way. Um, I hardly ever I mean there's like some photographers that are like never ever ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever ever ever shoot a wide angle vertical right and I pretty much agree with them there are times there's all rules are meant to be broken, you know, but wide angle verticals are really weird and it's, like kind of a wonky thing and there's like, you know, space on the top and bottom, you know? So my verticals are like, I mean, like, ninety nine point nine percent of the time, it is always with my eighty five and only my eighty fives when I shoot verticals, right? So I don't know that answer your question at all, but but I don't it's just a preference, I think, more than anything, some people see differently, some people might see vertically, you know? I don't know journalists or documentary photographers sort of have a rule like that. Where it's eighty percent at least I don't think it's a rule necessarily, I think it's just a style form in a way that, like including information into photos. Yeah, I'm potentially you know, I don't I don't really know. I just know for me it's it's what I prefer it's how I see the world, you know? So I think the eyes was that was the best, I think that's a twenty in there so submit symmetry, right? Was talking about symmetry, right? So you got to think about making your people's eyes happy, right? And we live in a symmetrical world, right, so every car that's out there, except for that damn cube, hate us on that car, that car, because it doesn't make any sense to me. But, like, weird. Anyway, that's makes the world spin, though everybody's got their own opinion, right, you know, on dso, but like cars, you know, they're all balance right to to brake lights, one in the middle, you know, and so I hate it when they actually, when, when cardio, which was put there, sticker on, because it breaks that symmetry, you know, right now, I'm a know about this stuff, but what's. Interesting is I had to give up that when I'm shooting, like fleeting moments cause there's times. I just can't do it all.

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Tyler calls 'em like he sees'em. He gets it: capture the emotion, the expression, the feelings of a wedding without preoccupation with perfect posing, perfect lighting, perfect camera settings. An image of a father's expression seeing is daughter in her dress for the first time is far more important than trying to get it framed just right. Anticipate. Watch. Don't interrupt a moment. This is a great series to refocus on the true meaning of why we shoot weddings.

a Creativelive Student

Recommend but with one big caveat. This class is useful in terms of his approach and mindset. I found it really inspiring in that respect. It's worth watching if you want to broaden your mind and make your wedding photography more interesting. Don't bother with this class if you are looking to improve technically, Tyler isn't a great technician and most of the info he provides in that respect is garbage and outdated. He also comes across as very arrogant at times and he's not a great instructor.

Chethan Kumar

Tyler is not just an awesome wedding Photographer but a very good human being. Love the way he speaks, teaches and respect students and their work. I enjoyed each and every bit of this learning and learnt a lot. Thanks creative live and Tyler. Regards, Chethan Cks Photolab Melbourne|Australia

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