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Try A Picture Essay (Cont'd)

Instead, stick to essay themes that you can control and which are relatively self- contained. Remember, you don’t have to shoot the whole enchilada. For example, if you choose a bridge, you can narrow it down to exclude certain aspects such as people and cars if you’re just interested in exploring its design elements such as cables, towers, and structural patterns.
Peter Randall photo: stone church

Shot from a low angle, this old stone church gains dignity and stature. The flowers and granite boulders in the foreground lead your eye right to it.

Your pictures should make people say: "Gee, that's an interesting angle," or "I never noticed that before," or "What a beautiful time of day you chose to shoot this." Don’t forget the little details. They may not be particularly outstanding alone but when used in the context of the essay will enrich it. For example, if you’re shooting that exciting city block, a fire hydrant with a smiley face drawn on it or gang graffiti sprayed on a wall are images that make strong visual statements so don’t neglect to shoot them.

As the Knight warned Indiana Jones about the hazards of drinking from the wrong cup, "choose wisely." Your essay subject should really interest you– enough so you won’t tire of it quickly. Some research may suggest interesting visual paths to follow. I remember passing through a little Pennsylvania backwater called Mast Hope. What a weird name, I thought. Turns out it was the only area of the country in which trees were found to be large enough to provide masts for the USS Constitution. From that, an entire picture essay evolved.
Peter Randall photo: seagull landing

Luck? Hardly. Spend 20 years observing gulls and you’ll know the precise moment to release the shutter. The real challenge is getting them to land on command.

The photos that illustrate this column were shot by Peter Randall, a former a student of mine many years ago. For more than 20 years, Pete has returned to the Isles of Shoals off the coast of his native New Hampshire, making a photographic record of the fascinating lifestyle there.

Rest assured, you won’t have to spend 20 years on your picture essay (although you just might want to). Start by picking a suitable subject, explore it visually, and then put together your own collection of images. It’s bound to be one of the most exciting photographic adventures you’ll ever embark on.

For more of Peter Randall’s remarkable photography visit:
http://www.perpublisher.com/photos.html

ALL PHOTOS © Peter E. Randall



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