There are times when we see a photo and we just feel nothing about that photo. It feels that photo look “plain” and uninteresting. I believe the main problem in these kind of photos is because they fail to present “strong visual impact” to viewers.
To create strong visual impact we need one or more elements inside photo that able to attract audience’s attention in split second. Things that have strong visible presence and become the “main point of interest” in a photo.
Some elements that will greatly improve visual impact in street photography:
Dynamic gesture will create sense of movement and stronger story line from main subject’s activity. Always try to shoot people while they walk, and snap when they do a step. Like in photo above, audience will feel there is a decisive moment inside photo. Imagine if I captured a person who just stood still, it would be a boring photo because people would think it was much easier to take a photo of person while they were not moving rather than when doing a (big) step.
Also pay more attention to hand gesture, because people tend to move their hands too while walking. We want to catch hand movement that form diagonal line like in photo above. Always remember when shoot people, catch “diagonal gesture” from them.
Could be the strongest factor from them all. Shoot everything dynamically by use diagonal composition technique (Read here). Either we shoot in diagonal angle, or use any diagonal lines as support objects to build strong visual impact in photos. Commonly, diagonal lines come from: Building’s geometry, people’s gesture (neck, hand and leg gesture), and shadow.
Creatively playing with light and shadow. At golden hour time, buildings will receive light from side, which is mean they will “produce” shadow, included some shadow that will come in diagonal shape. Use Fishing Technique and wait till the right subject enter our frame. Pay attention to their gesture, always try do get diagonal gesture from your subject.
Eye contact will add more drama, tense and pressure to viewers. Feels like we put audience on our feet when we were capturing subject inside our photo. At first sight when we see photo with clear eye contact, our attention automatically focus on subject’s eyes and “ignore” other objects around him/her. That how strong eye contact is.
Make our photo feels more surreal by comparing size of main subjects and objects around them. The greater the difference usually lead to create a stronger looks photo. Use elements like building, sun, or large open spaces and shoot human side by side with them.
Most of the time people will generalise human’s size (more or less), that is why it always great to showing size of objects by using human as a scale. Always try to search objects that relatively has great difference in size compare to human size.
This is the simplest theory: To create a stood out main subject, simply remove all unnecessary distraction (read: objects) around it. Only left the essential elements inside image. The more we put distraction objects around main subject, the more we reduce the presence of main subject as well.
Negative space is our best friend here. Try to shoot with number of objects as least as possible inside our photo. Shoot subject in front of clean background. Read here for more about minimizing distraction.
Shoot in extreme low angle
People tend to see the world in eye-level height. By use extreme low angle of view will create an unique effect, because people do not get used to this view. Unique looks in photography will help our photos more stood out to catch people’s attention.
The main benefit of shoot from low angle: Heroic effect. Subject inside photo will looks “bigger” and more pronounce compare to if we shot in eye-level. Notice that in many Hollywood movies, when they introduce main actor (both protagonist and antagonist), they show it from low angle of view.
Why shoot a person without reveal their true face?
Main reason is because I like to create image that force audience to use their imagination (and infuse it to reality) to interpret the story in my photo. (Read here about Shoot Mysterious Subject).
Do not just reveal a plain information but instead create an art images that force viewers to use their imagination. Why? Because as normal human we see reality based on real information, based on logic, we do not use our imagination to see things that we see everyday. Then the key is: Create images that different than how human’s eyes see reality. (Read here about The Weirder The Better).
The main factor to create photo with vivid and bold colours: Light.
The better the light, the more colours will pop out and easier to attract audience’s attention. Also, try to capture bright colours (like red or yellow) as they reflect the light better than dark colours (like navy or grey).
Find good light source: Use Sun at daylight and digital advertising board at evening/night time. So far, I think they are great sources to produce strong light that easy to find everywhere.
That is all my thought about create strong visual impact in street photography. Feel free to experiment yourself and let me know if you have some other elements that I hadn’t wrote here 🙂
Keep shooting everyday,