Creating Compelling Captures

We always are striving to make our images more compelling – to bring the viewer in closer, and to connect better wit our audience.  I have had people ask me pretty much the same thing, but in may different ways and it basically comes down to the something like this: “I get the technical, but it’s the creative side of making compelling images that gets me stuck – what can you suggest?”

It’s the age-old question, and if I had all the answers, well, I’d be filthy rich!  The reason this is the case is because what is compelling or inspiring for one person will be different for another, and yet another, and even a fourth or fifth person.  The truth of the matter is that there is no magical silver bullet of what to do to create compelling images…but there are some things that we, as photographers, can rely on as starting points in our search for compelling captures.  Here’s 5 compelling capture tips that I’ve come up with:

  1. Color – striking colors are always noticeable.  We see the world in shades, tones and nuances of color, so seek out those types of images where color is powerful.  D0 this, and your chances of creating compelling captures increases exponentially!
  2. Light – Surprise surprise!  I’ve talked about light before, and it’s influence in photography (it’s all about light in photography, even the word itself translates partially as light).  Find powerfully lit scenes and you’ve found a compelling moment.
  3. Emotion – Photo journalism relies on this more than any other genre, but if you want to tell a story with your images, one way to do so is to evoke a sense of emotional connection.  Bringing out the emotion in the viewer by presenting scenes that are filled with emotionally charged elements – whether it’s a controversial image of a war zone, or the passion of a mother and her unborn child, these types of scenes stay wit us for a reason, because of the emotion tied to it.
  4. Action – In the words of Joe McNally, “action trumps everything.”  Action shots also connect with the viewer because it speaks to a particular moment in time more than anything else.  That moment a soccer player connects their foot wit a ball, or the moment a bullet shatters a wine glass – it’s something that sparks interest in the viewer, and cannot be ignored as a source of compelling interest.
  5. Eyes – Spoken from the rulebook of a true portraitist, when you have the faces of people or animals in an image – make sure you can see their eyes.  Remember, like the old saying goes, “The eyes are the windows to the soul”, and if you want viewers to connect with an image, one of the most compelling ways to connect with a portrait is to give a hint of what’s inside, and that is almost always done through the eyes of the subject.

So, there you have it – 5 ways to create compelling images.  These are, of course, adages, and there will be exceptions to these rules at times, but as a general rule of thumb, these tips can help you create compelling captures.  There’s also more to it than these 5 ideas, because you know that no single person can completely encompass the ideas behind what creates compelling captures.  So, I would invite you to share your own ideas for what you look to in creating those decisive moments?  Is it something here?  Is there something else you look to for inspiration or to capture something compelling?  What captures your interest when you look at pictures?  Sound off in the comments!

Don’t forget, the November contest has started and a literal bundle of prizes is at stake for some lucky participant so get your creative caps on and throw an image (or two or three) in the Flickr thread.  If you don’t play, you can’t win!  🙂 Until tomorrow then, keep on shooting those compelling images.  Thanks for stopping in and we’ll see you then!

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4 comments for “Creating Compelling Captures

  1. November 4, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Great post with great tips. Simple and true. 🙂

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