Photographing Beauty & The Beast
Beauty and the Beast has been one of my favorite novels, movie and cartoon productions since I first learned to read and developed a taste for Disney Films.
Photographing beauty is rather easy since there are many colorful ,and beautiful images all around us and just as easily something unappealing or ugly can also be found. Putting both together and making a photographic project work is not only odd but it takes talent to make it work and to produce good photographs that appeal to an audience and will make them take notice takes talent and creativity.
First take into account as to what is generally thought to be a representation or idea of what is beauty: "Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction." Wikipedia.
And let's not forget to also take a look at what is generally considered to be ugly; "Ugliness, a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon and results in a highly unfavorable evaluation" Wikipedia.
So how would a photographer approach the subject? First thing that needs to be done is to do some thinking and try to develop a strategy into what beauty elements and what ugly elements may work well when paired up.
If you intend on using beautiful models then that makes it that much easier, all you would need to do after is to find an unattractive location, like a dirty and desolate alleyway and conduct the photo shoot there.
But if you want to go the extra step and avoid using models, then there are other subjects that can be incorporated like using a beautiful car next to a dumpsters or next to a cluttered construction site for example.
A photo of a beautiful flower next to a pile of trash may also do the trick. You must learn to use your imagination and be selective as to what subjects will fit the beauty and the ugly categories and learn to arrange the set up well to create interesting and strong visual compositions.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, for this project to work you must make the decisions and become the "eye" thus bringing your views into the forefront so that an audience can appreciate what it is that you are trying to do and see the concept behind the creation of the photographs just like you see them.
This project should not be approached as solely focusing on capturing images of something beautiful found in an ugly place or vice verse. There are many instances where the location and the subject matter may not be appealing or presents you with a photogenic scene. But examining the scene closely, looking at different angles and exploring various perspectives may change the way that one sees the scene.
Often pairing colors against muted backdrops or the other way around may be just what you need. Looking at a piece of unattractive architecture or iron works and changing your perspective for an unusual one can be just what you needed to do to alter the way the scene is "felt".
Maybe a scene presents itself that does not feature any interesting subject matter when viewed as you come upon it or as it is more likely to be seen when first approaching it, but by getting low to the ground or even doing a close up, even a macro shot, everything changes.
Do not think that only colors and such elements need be present. Finding even one single interesting piece of the scene and composing the shot appropriately is often enough. It just depends on how you choose to present it.
Let's agree that almost no one would label a pile of rotting vegetables or fruits as being beautiful, but by simply adding one element or taking one out of the scene changes completely or even focusing on the color combinations alone can turn the scene around.
Flies are not only considered to be pests, but hardly anyone would find them attractive, yet there are some species that if looked at closely will reveal some iridescent shades of color and it's this presence of color that will change the photograph of an ugly fly into a beautiful picture of a colorful insect.
Silhouettes can also be useful and adaptable to this theme. If you come upon a scene that seems stark and devoid of any beauty element, photographing it in silhouette form and if you can , including a setting Sun will more than likely not only become a beautiful photo but will be an interesting one too.
Just like silhouettes so can reflections turn an ugly, uninteresting scene into a beautiful one. Look for elements that reflect of surfaces like windows or even standing water.
Use your imagination and think out of the box. Do not be afraid to take chances and go out on a limb. After all, if you are not satisfied with the shot, just delete it and keep trying.
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© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez
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