What Makes A Photo Work?

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Mexican Light With Tonal Control

The original image presenting a typically Mexican light - I think!
If you're interested in a photo tour to Mexico in 2017, please visit the website.


Street life can be challenging to capture. First of all, as the photographer you need to feel comfortable with people because this will allow you to get in close and be a part of the scene. Successful street photography often makes you feel like you are in the middle of what's going on.


But how do you feel as you view this photograph? I feel that the photographer is only a distant spectator. It's not that this is a bad feeling, rather a disinterested feeling. While there are people in the scene, they are small and of little consequence. As a landscape or urban photographer, I enjoy the light, the light shadows (due to light being bounced by the opposite facades) and the colour, but I don't feel involved. 


So, how can it be strengthened? What are the problems?



 The challenging issues I see are lots of sky and the woman on the left, very close to the edge of the frame. She is so close, she looks a bit like an accident...



My first edit is to darken down the image overall which adds detail. I'm still keeping the shadows open and alive, but I'm giving the colours more saturation and kick. Getting the exposure right is often overlooked, yet so fundamental. It can also happen when your monitor is not correctly calibrated.



The foreground is a little light and preventing me as the viewer from entering the composition, so let's darken that down a bit as well. Now the lighter area behind the foreground attracts my eye more easily.



Finally, let's crop the sky out and remove the woman. I am of two minds with the woman now that she is gone, but I am very comfortable with the crop on the sky. Certainly the image doesn't look as accidental with the woman gone, but on the other hand, a small flaw in the composition can make it look more real. I'll leave that choice up to you!


And if you're interested in a photography tour/workshop in the next 12 months, I have trips going to Arnhemland, Georgia/Armenia, Iran, Greenland/Iceland and Mexico. Full details on the Better Photography website!


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