As photographers, we have limited time to spend on photography. Even with no logistical restraints, there are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Given these limitations, it becomes important for us to acknowledge an important point, not all photographic subjects are created equal. With limited time available, it is beneficial to evaluate potential subjects and focus our efforts on those most likely to create the images were are after. Note that I do not say we have to focus on the prettiest subject (though that often is where our attention goes). Rather, as photographers we must make decisions about the purpose of the photograph and then select our subjects so as to maximize the image’s impact. If the message is about the beauty of nature, then a beautiful flower will better tell the story then a wilted one. If, on the other hand, the image’s purpose is to showcase the exploitation of natural resources, a harsh, barren landscape might better serve.
Lets look at an example using the two ostrich images below. Both images depict ostriches on the savannah. The first shows a female ostrich sitting among a field of flowers. The second, a male in full breeding plumage. I like both images and often include both in slideshows. I don’t for a moment, however, fool myself into thinking that they have the same level of impact when viewed. When comparing the two, the image of the male stands out dramatically because of its color and posture. The female, while beautiful in her own right, is much less impressive when compared to the male. So, how as a photographer should I devote my limited time between these two subject? Ideally, I would spend time shooting both (which I obviously did). If time was limited, however, I would focus my attention on the male as he is the more dramatic subject, and is more likely to produce an image with impact.
When out photographing, remember that your time is limited, and all subjects are not created equal. How will you choose to spend your time?
(click on the images to see larger versions)
The image of the female ostrich (top image) was captured using a Canon 1D mark 2, 500mm IS lens, at 400 ISO. The image was shot from a vehicle and a beanbag was used to support the lens.
The image of the male ostrich (bottom image) was captured using a Canon 1D mark 2, 500mm IS lens with a 1.4 teleconverter attached, at 200 ISO. The image was shot from a vehicle and a beanbag was used to support the lens.