Training one's eye for shots that go beyond convention is the hardest thing to do in photography. A hobbyist like me should learn to go beyond the comforts of photography rules and become more aware of the elements that are presented right before my very eyes. More often, too, scenes like this does not come very often. One needs to be quick on the trigger to be able to capture unique shots that one can call my own--when no one else has done it.
I have joined Flickristasindios photo walks to Quiapo and Binondo several times, and from my first photo walk experience, I always wanted to get a different take on what we all see. It is that personal urge to be different by going beyond norms and the flow, and these are the following lessons I have learned over time, which I am happy to share:
- Aim for uniqueness. Avoid aiming your camera at the same subject your fellow photographers are photographing. In short, strive to be unique;
- Take it from a different perspective. If ever you cannot resist the temptation, get a different perspective or angle like making an environmental portrait instead of a close-up;
- Take the other side of the road. If everyone else is lined up on the more comfortable side (read: shady and feeling of security with other photographers), take the opposite lane. If you have been to a place like Binondo, more or less, you would know what to expect the next time you return. Take a mental note of where you have walked through the last time, and next time, take the other side of the road. There are always interesting subjects from a different perspective.
- Review your past photos of the same place. Quiapo and Binondo are places teeming with photographic subjects and opportunities. It is a street photographer's mecca! By studying your past photos, you keep in mind what you need to shoot the next time around, and most of all, learn from your mistakes. This is how I found out I have not taken a picture of amulets being sold in Quiapo yet. So this time, I made it sure I would photograph amulets. Am I happy with my shots? Not yet. I still need to do more and experiment more on some angles and perspectives the next time I would visit Quiapo;
- Be the leader of the pack or stay behind. When you go in droves, it is more likely that you would have similar subjects, and worse, even have the same framing. It is best to walk ahead so you can have the "fresh" scene worthy to be photographed, or you may choose to walk slowly and stay behind for you to better appreciate the scenes presented right before your very eyes;
- Have a story in mind. I read somewhere that story-tellers are better photographers. I am not saying that I am very good at story-telling (because I am a work in progress in my blogging), but this time around, I had several purposes in mind: (1) Complete my Quiapo documentary which has been in the pipeline for so long, and (2) To tell a story about street food intended for my travel blog, and (3) to get photos that are unique from the rest of the 30 or so photographers. So this would help if you are working on a certain documentary project or a blog like I do.
- Lastly, be open to all possibilities. Scenes are presented right before our very eyes. You just need to aim your camera and shoot any possible scene you think will look good on the big screen. As we, the Flickristasindios always say: Shoot from the gut. Capture and share. Have fun along the way!