This Photo Can’t Be Fixed

“This photo can’t be fixed.” 

Dana had been told by another photo instructor that her situation was unsalvageable. There simply wasn’t enough rescuable material here to make something worth giving the client. Challenge accepted.

Now it’s true this photo has a fair amount going against it. Dana was real about that. But not knowing what to do is not the same as not having anything to do. What are the biggest problems with this photo?

1) Analyzing focal point is always a great first step. Where is the audience supposed to look first? This one’s a little tough because our subjects are silhouetted. Silhouetting is an extreme example of reducing the depth we so often talk about creating in photography. Your essentially dealing with only a single plain of information. It goes without saying that you need to maximize the amount of information in that silhouette to convey what subject is represented.

2) The exposure wasn’t intentionally set. The blown out highlights in the foliage outside are distracting. It’s not a problem to clip to white. That happens frequently in fact. The issue here is that the transition isn’t a subtle one. We go from areas of detail to blobs of pure white. 

3) The cropping and level of the camera aren’t ideal. This goes back to the all or none principle. Commit or quit. Hot or cold, not lukewarm. If you’re going for the slanted angle then make sure it’s slanted enough to appear intentional, otherwise it looks like a mistake. The same goes for many of the close-but-not-parallel horizontal lines in this photo.

So much of this hearkens back to the principle of making conscious decisions as a photographer. The more your work is intentional, not incidental. 

There are more things to be done with this photo. To take this photo to the “next level”, always be conscious of including some sort of narrative idea or additional layer of interest. In this case, leaning. What can be done with the reflection from the photos on the wall? See the post on creativity. 

So that’s it. How to fix an “unfixable” photo.