Finding the Picture

Finding the Picture


How to look beyond the obvious to find great Photographs


There will be some times when a photograph will leap out and hit you between the eyes in all its glory – but at other times you sense there is a possibility of a picture in a location, but have to search a little harder for it.

I had one of those experiences on a walking holiday along the North Cornwall coastal path a couple of years ago.  It was August and very hot, and the coastal path is pretty steep in places, so I didn’t have my full camera gear with me.

When I passed this amazingly coloured shed, I knew I would have to go back and visit it again with my camera.  boathouse overall view

However, at the time of day that I could be there, the light was completely wrong as you can see in this photo – the shed itself was in shadow while its background was brightly lit and distracting; and also there was a lot of clutter I didn’t like, such as concrete and drainpipes and bits of other buildings.

I knew I would have to go closer to exclude all the bits I didn’t want, and find a picture that worked.  I noticed a flat stone about two thirds of the way up one of the doors, and that became the subject of my next photo.

I really liked the contrast in both texture and colour between the stone and the painted wood.  I positioned the stone off to one side of the image rather than bang in the middle, to make a visually more interesting arrangement.

door with stone

As I was working on this photo, I noticed that underneath the peeling pink paint you could see bits of blue paint coming through in places.  I then spent a happy hour with my nose about 12 inches from the wood, looking for the best arrangement of colour and shape.

I know that peeling paint is a bit of a cliché, and I always thought I wouldn’t photograph it – but that was before I knew I might find these gorgeous shades of pink and blue together!

peeling paint

From the coastal path, all I had seen was a shed painted in a quirky colour.  I could never have known all this texture and colour was there without going closer and looking more carefully.  Sometimes there is a picture just waiting for you to find it!

Sue Bishop teaches Landscape and Flower photography with MyPhotoSchool