“Hey kids, stand next to that dinosaur and look really scared!”
Last Friday we headed down to the Museum Campus, with plans to see some jelly fish at the Shedd Aquarium. However, as we walked toward the end of the line, to get into the Shedd, we found ourselves closer to the Field Museum. Since no one wanted to wait (7 kids in all), we decided to visit the Field Museum. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the Field Museum, but we were looking forward to seeing some jellies (exhibit ends in May). I was looking forward to photographing some jellies. I just didn’t need another photo of Sue.
Well, now I was on a mission. I was going to avoid taking the same boring pictures I usually take at the museum. Then it got me thinking, maybe I can share a few tips I used on this visit to help others avoid the same fate.
Before I get into my top ten list, I do want to make a few things clear. The camera I use allows for high ISOs and the lens I used for this visit had a very large aperture, (f/1.4). So that means I have the capability of photographing in rather low light conditions without a flash. Flash in museums is usually not allowed, so having the right equipment really makes a difference.
Hopefully, these tips will help you in other settings, then just a museum. They’re just a few things to think about, when you’re at a loss of what to photograph.
1. Don’t be afraid to experiment with light.
Any book will tell you that photography is all about the light. So why not have a little fun with it. Don’t be afraid to break the rules once in awhile. Too much light, not enough light, it really depends on what you like.
2. Pay attention to details.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in what you are doing and who you are with, to really pay attention to your surroundings. I get it, when at the museum, it was not easy keeping seven kids in close proximity to me or each other. Though my sister was there to help (3 of the 7 being her own), it’s an unbelievable task. However, if you don’t take a minute to slow down and really take it all in, you might miss out on some really cool things.
3. Get low. Get high.
How low can you go? Try looking at things from a different perspective. Even though it’s getting harder to get up from a low position, I don’t let that stop me. You’ll be surprised on what you can get in your shot if you’re willing to make that extra effort.
4. Use your imagination.
Duh! If you were doing that, you wouldn’t need to be reading this post. However, I’m going to mention it anyways. It’s doesn’t take much to think outside the box. I actually came across a story, about a creative father and the photos he took of his daughters, right before writing this post. If we can have a sliver of this man’s imagination, we’ll be doing pretty good.
5. Look for the unusual.
Can it get any simpler then this? Avoid the ordinary and pay close attention to the not so ordinary. People, places and things you might not see on a daily basis are always good candidates. I think this is the basis for most viral YouTube videos. Countless people dancing simultaneously to “Do-Re-Mi” in a train station, is not something you see every day.
6. Look for color.
When it seems like nothing is jumping out at you, don’t despair, find something colorful. I always enjoy a good black and white photo, but color evokes a sense of liveliness, splendor if you will. Just ask Dorothy.
7. Focus on patterns interesting lines and shapes.
Architecture is always a good place to find shapes and lines that are quite pleasing to the eye. Do not always focus on what is inside a building, but appreciate the building itself. There are so many opportunities for great photography around us, we just need to be able to recognize them.
8. Strike a pose.
Madonna did it, so why can’t we? A good pose, a good fitting pose, can really make a boring picture, quite appealing, if not just plain amusing. It seems like the kids are the first takers for this request. Though I know a few adults that take every opportunity to pose for the camera. You know who you are.
9. Take direction from the kids.
You don’t always have to call the shots. Listen to the ideas of the little people around you. The imagination of a child is probably ten times greater than that of an adult, if not more. Don’t be so quick to dismiss or be angered by their antics, sometimes, it can lead to some great photos.
10. Sometimes a good cry is photo worthy.
Smiles everyone! Smiles! Mr. Rourke didn’t realize, that sometimes it’s just simply impossible. As hard as you try, sometimes evoking a smile in a child (for that matter, some adults), is absolutely inconceivable. Don’t sweat it, embrace it. Capture the day, the good, the bad and the ugly.
So, next time I’m at the Field Museum I might just have to say….
“Hey kids, stand on your heads next to the dinosaur and look really scared!”