How To Make Your Pictures Sing!

Mexican Wall Art

Mexican Wall Art

While recently listening to This Week in Tech (a great podcast, and I highly recommend it), the show host, Leo Laporte, made an interesting observation about the advancement of technology.  He was musing about the changes that have happened in audio consumption.  We listen to much of our music in iPods and portable music players, when not too long ago, we were confined to a certain space.  To that end, he noted that the technology of audio in those days revolved around things like the number of amps, tweeters and woofers, quadraphonics, decibels, and much of that technical information.  We jam-packed our houses with stereo components, our cars with subwoofers, and on and on.  To get truly high quality audio you needed to have resources (a.k.a. money), and the producers of that audio content was restrictive because of the costs.

Not today – these days you can plug a $5 microphone into a USB port on a $400 computer, say or sing anything you want, and almost instantly have beautiful high quality digital recordings of whatever you like. This is a good thing though – because even though more people are recording audio, what matters is what the message of that audio is saying.  I can’t just go on the podcast and talk about nothing because no one would listen…although sometimes it feels like I am blathering on and on!  🙂  As the old saying goes, “content is king“!  Leo’s observation was that in the audio world, it’s a wonderful thing because anyone can produce audio, and there are now more voices for creativity.  With the lower cost of entry to producing high end audio, two questions came about.  The first is “What does that content say (what is the point, or message)?”  The second is “How do you want to consume that media?” (With the options being whether you want it on a CD in your car, on your iPod at the gym, on your computer as you work, or where ever.)

It was a very astute observation, and that description applies to other media as well.  I am, of course, thinking about photography.  Think about the analogy for a minute.  For the longest time we had the film world, and as ASA speeds got better, grain got finer, the size and quality of image development improved as technology permitted.  With the movement to the digital world, and the subsequent “Megapixel Wars”, capturing high quality detail in your photography was no longer such an arduous process.  I believe we are at a crossroad now in digital photography, where the technology has expanded to a quality level that anyone is able to produce excellent quality images, in terms of technical details. The portability factor for audiophiles doesn’t really apply as much to photography though as the medium is more portable by definition.  You are also looking at the image rather than listening to it.

The advances in the technology of photography has also introduced a creative outlet for many where it previously did not exist.  The decreasing costs of production have allowed many to find their “photography voice”.  With the holidays upon us, many are likely to get a shiny new camera with lots of bells and whistles, and for some out there, this will be an opportunity to “sing”!  It’s an exciting time to be a part of the chorus because with so many voices, there are lots of melodies and harmonies to be heard and enjoyed.

This will undoubtedly lead many to ask “So, how do I make my pictures sing?”  It’s a great question, and one that I have been tackling in some way, shape, or form for some time now from various points of view, including technical, compositional, and subtle intangibles that are all part of this larger question of how to better express yourself photographically.  There’s more to come on that, and I’ll be sharing more thoughts on this in the weeks to come.  But it is a good exercise, so I would like to throw it to the reading and listening audiences.  As we take a blogging break over the holidays, ask yourself (and post your thoughts here in the blog)  the following two questions:

  1. Can pictures really “sing”?  Why, or why not?
  2. If so, what does it take to make your pictures sing?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!  As a reminder, you can also now embed photos in your comments by using the link to attach a URL.  Happy shooting, Merry Christmas, and we’ll see you back here next week!

P.S.  Don’t forget – next week is the last week to add your “Giving” themed photos to the December Giveaway!  Should be lots of opportunities to capture some photos with that theme over the weekend!  There’s over $400 in prizes will go to one lucky person, so post your best photo to the Flickr thread here.  The guidelines are posted there, so be sure to check those to make sure your entry is counted…Happy Shooting and good luck to all!

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