The Viewfinder

Consider the lowly viewfinder.

I often don’t. And I think my photography suffers for it.

Too often I just snap at what is in front of me and forget one very important fact about the lowly viewfinder: Through it we have the power to frame a subject in innovative or extraordinary ways. Instead we too often become focused on the subject of the photo and nothing else.

Framing is about as fundamental design principle as exists in photography. Will the subject be in the center of the picture? Lower third? Upper third?

Through the viewfinder we take the everything that confronts us and snap that something that makes a photo.

How many of us consider the edges of the viewfinder when we compose a shot? It is through the viewfinder – whether a traditional eyepiece over the lens or the screen of an iPhone – where we create a photo.

The viewfinder offers us a photo’s boundaries. But these edges need not constrict us. Rather the viewfinder’s edges offer us opportunities to see the world in novel and exciting ways.

Play with what is included or excluded by the viewfinder.

On the Move

As a photographer I am enchanted with what happens just beyond the viewfinder. If a viewfinder is a frame, what lies just beyond it? As viewers we fill in what is happening. Whether this photo works as a photo, I am not sure. I offer it as a way to push notions of the viewfinder.

Artistic implications

Amateurs include unwanted or unnecessary information in a photograph. Professionals do not. Through practice professional photographers use their viewfinder and their sense of design to exclude unwanted detail and emphasize only those pictorial components that support the subject matter.

Professionals move, using their viewfinders and their feet to shoot a subject from a variety of perspectives.

I’m training myself to do is MOVE THE VIEWFINDER!! Gosh I can’t tell you how many photos I’ve taken where I take just one photo. Different angles bring different perspectives. The several photos below are all of the same scene. In all of them I’ve moved the viewfinder.

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