This blog is the second part of Lou Noble’s photography techniques series: 'The Noble Method.' Lou is the editor-in-chief of The Photographic Journal, and a Flickr member since 2005.
When I’m taking pictures of somebody, I’m talking CONSTANTLY. I want my subjects to know what I’m thinking, what I’m doing. I want everybody on the same page. Your subject wants direction, wants to know what’s going on. The better they understand what you want, the easier it’ll be for both of you.
But it’s not just about conveying information. When you’re having a conversation with your subject, you’re helping create a healthy environment for both of you to work in. An environment where you can talk about and share ideas, work through any potential obstacles that come up, when you and your subject can work as partners to create photos you’re both really happy with.
Some of my best photos? Not my idea at all. It was the product of my subject and myself working through different ideas that sparked something in their heads, leading them to come up with suggestions I’d never have come up with in a million years.
When you’re communicating with your subject, you’re involving them in the process. Lowering the wall that separates the photographer from their subject. Dimming the notion that they have nothing to contribute.
And let’s not forget…conversation and communication lead to you better knowing and understanding the person you’re photographing. That there is a reward all on its own.
“But Wait!,” you say. “I’m not photographing a person!.” Don’t you worry, I got you.
Whatever you’re looking to photograph, the better you can articulate your goals to yourself, the better prepared you’ll be when it comes time to press that shutter. Have a wee conversation with yourself. Lay out what you’re looking to shoot, even if it’s just a mood, a feeling.
And it’s not just about articulating what you want. It’s that by speaking your thoughts out loud, you’re better able to interrogate them. To dig deep within your obvious desires, in order to find the more foundational motivators.
You know what you want. But why do you want it? What’s the real motivation behind your artistic desires? You know the road you want to go down, but why did you choose this road? Could knowing the answer to that question lead you down a different road that will better get you to your destination?
Communication is not just about conveying information. It’s about creating a space where new ideas can flourish. When you’re attempting to articulate your desires and goals to yourself, you are able to better visualize what your motivations are, you’re able to assess, with greater clarity, what you really want to accomplish. And with this greater clarity, you can then determine new and interesting avenues to go down. This is true when photographing a subject in a studio, people walking down the street, animals in nature, vistas in a valley, Lego sculptures at home.
Communication is a crucial aspect to dealing with others (and yourself) when shooting, and an integral part of the method I use for every shot.
In this album, I shared some examples of great results that stemmed from solid communication with my subject. Check it out and leave me a comment if you have any questions.