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Powerful Picture Templates

The reasons why

A picture template is your repeated subconscious way of seeing and taking a picture. You may not realise it, but you only take the pictures styles you have taken before. To increase your picture taking opportunities, you will need to expand how many picture templates you recognise.

Examples of Picture Templates

Mouse over or click on the pictures to see the Template description

The picture templates table below

If you take a look at the table below, you will note that my working temples fall into two groups: strongly preferred and preferred. The strongly preferred group are the ones that get the most use, with the preferred having an occasional outing.

Andy’s Strongly Preferred top 10
Picture Templates
Alternative Template
1 Wide-angle lensTelephoto lens
2 Limited Depth of field (DoF)Extended Depth of field
3 Light subject dark background Dark subject light background
4 Side lighting Frontal lighting
5 Left hand diagonal leading lineRight hand diagonal
6 Dominant foreground subjectDominant background subject
7 Horizontal aspect ratioPortrait or square aspect ratio  
8 Backlighting Frontal lighting
9 The decisive moment Random capture
10 Leading Lines Shapes

 

Andy’s Preferred top
10 Picture Templates
Alternative Template
1 Single subject matter Multiple subjects
2 Single shot Motor drive
3 Taken from eye levelHigh or low Viewpoint
4 Fast lensesKit lenses
5 Without tripodWith Tripod
6 Natural lighting Flash
7 Filling the frameIncluding the environment
8 Showing the environmentFilling the frame
9 Poor weather Bright & sunny
10 View point near the ground Camera above the head

 

Examples of Picture Templates

Mouse over or click on the pictures to see the Template description

You will note from the table that I have provided the opposite of my preferred picture templates. There are no right or wrong answers, each photographer has their own way of seeing and taking.
How to find out what picture templates you are currently using 

1 Choose a set of pictures to review, preferably finished work from a print or digital source of around 50+ pictures (I did a review of the 50 pictures shown in  The ABC of CameraWork Manual to make this assessment). For further reference about the review process look at page 104, section A5.4 Picture Templates of the ABC Manual.

2 Look critically at your portfolio, not in terms of a technical critique but an overall approach.

3 Note the trends you find; repetition in aspect ratio, subject matter, lighting, composition, camera settings, choice of lens types – anything you choose or do repeatedly.

4 Make a note of the trends you discover.

If you do not see the need or do not want to expand your visual language, then you will continue to make the same pictures.

Inspiration from other photographers 

We can form new working templates by studying inspiring photos or paintings in depth. Studying in depth means getting under the skin of the photographers you chose to study. Note the plural use of the word photographer in the last sentence. To only study one photographer is to plagiarise or steal their style. 

This is not about theft of intellectual property but the research and amalgamation of a range of different practices. As it is rightly said borrowing one photographer’s style is theft, mix the styles of three or more and you become a genius. Where possible you will try to understand your chosen photographers’ subject matter, seeing and taking practice.
How to increase the picture templates which inspire you?

1) Recognise picture templates exist in every photographer’s subconscious.

2) Have a Desire to find out which individual picture templates you practice.

3) Carry out a Review of at least 50+ of your finished pictures to ascertain the trends they display.

4) Write down the trends you find within your body of work.

5) Review the trends within the work of three or more (not one) photographers whose work is your Inspiration.

6) Add the picture templates from those who inspire you to your own list.

7) Plan and Practice using the new templates on a regular basis until they become second nature.

8) To embed the idea in your subconscious Review the pictures taken to embody the new templates regularly.

9) Continue taking Pictures with the new templates.

10) Repeat the process from step 5 at regular intervals.

How to increase the picture templates you recognise and use

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