Adding Interesting Elements Into Photographs

I think it is too easy to create ordinary looking images, an image that can be easily replicated and shot by any other photographers. Every photographer has his or her own preferences in shooting techniques and also unique vision, which contribute to individual shooting style. While it is getting more difficult to find original photographs these days (we all try to surpass certain standards being set before us by another photographer, but along the way we are actually copying the photographer's shooting style), I want to believe that we can, in our own small ways, add interesting elements into our own photographs. Those characteristics create uniqueness and that ultimately resulted in our owb unique photographs.

This works especially well for street photography. We often keep an eye out for something unusual, something outstanding, and something that can generate curiosity when the viewer was looking at our photographs. In this entry, I shall share a few examples, and explain what was added to create these dramatic impact.

In Renovation
The shop lot was under renovation, and the worker was shirtless, peeking out the small opening to the main road outside. As I walked by, we saw each other and I was greeted by a smile. That was a green light for me to step in closer and get the close up portrait. I was particularly drawn by a few things in this frame: 1) the partial opening which hid his hands 2) quality of light on the man 3) his genuine, bright smile and 4) the facial mask to protect from dust or even paint, worn on his head. Location was clearly established, and the purpose of the man being there was obvious. 

My Pet, or My Dinner
Now this was quite an unusual scene. I managed to get close to this man, whose work was to slaughter the chicken! So I asked to take a portrait of him, which he agreed, and I immediately composed the frame to include a huge chunk of the cages with live chicken in them, to show where he was and what he was doing. Then out of nowhere, the man's friend or co-worker walked to him and hand him a live chicken, and he held it close to him, caressing the chicken's head and neck like the chicken was his pet!

Portrait of a Stranger
I have been asked many times, how to take good photographs of close up portraits, like my series of portraits of strangers which I post up almost every blog entries. The secret? Simple, really. It is all in the eyes of the human subject. If you can capture, somehow, the beauty of the man/woman's eyes, you have captured the soul of the portrait. I always focus on the sparkle, the energy and the look in the eyes, and they never, ever failed to add impact in the close up portraits. 

The Phone
This one was quite straightforward, the phone was facing away from the ear, I wonder how the man was speaking through that phone!

50 Ringgit
The man on the motorcycle was parked there for a few seconds before I came in and started framing for this shot. I slowed down the shutter speed to capture the motion blur of the passing vehicles. Motion blur adds a lot of drama for street photographs, and is one of the popularly used techniques too. Even though there was motion blur, the man sitting on the motorcycle waiting around was still quite an ordinary looking shot. So I waited for a bit more, and suddenly he raised his hand with an RM50 note on his hand, waving at the people in the nearby shop. That was the moment I needed to complete the image!

I sure hope these sharings have been useful, and gave you an insight on my thought process and why I took certain photographs the way I did. I am still a learning photographer and many of my shots shown here are mere experimentation.. Nevertheless, I do want to hear your thoughts, and if you have something to contribute, I would love to hear from you!


  1. Robin, excellent photos as usual. I admire your street photos and now have a greater understanding and appreciation for how you achieve them. Many kudos to you!

  2. Yes, as always very enjoyable.


  3. Perhaps a followup with some of your favorites divided into those where you had human contact with the subject and those shots where you did not establish contact. Seems to me to be quite different challenges.

  4. ảnh đẹp thật, anh có thể góp ý cho em một số ảnh tại đây được không chụp ảnh kỷ yếu

  5. ảnh đẹp thật, anh có thể góp ý cho em một số ảnh tại đây được không chụp ảnh kỷ yếu

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