How Photographers Create Timeless Treasures

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We offer so much more than photographs on a screen, or a piece of paper. Photographers create timeless treasures.

Our work, big, bold or small makes an impact.

Throughout our blog, we'll share how we, as photographers see and make images that stand the test of time.

Sure, we take hundreds, even thousands of images. Consider your own work over time.

timeless treasures on ice
A unique perspective on Muskegon's Lighthouse by Sheen Watkins

The images that make it to the light of day are just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface resides many, many images of moments, people, and subjects that pulled our eye in their direction.

Just because they're not out on social media, on your website, or in your Etsy shop doesn't mean they aren't great.

How many times have you returned to previous images and found gems? Little treasures that now make it into your post-processing priority list?

What Is A Timeless Treasure In Photography?

Take a digital walk or a scurry through old folders, albums, and dive in. Then, we find that photograph. The one that propels us back a week, month, or years. Back to a season, location, a memory.

Time dissipates.

Most subjects and photographers are not thinking, “that someday I'll be looking a this” at the time of capture.

Then later, that image is a treasure of time captured.

Several years ago, I wrote How Photographers See the World Differently for Light Stalking. The one element that resonates through time in an image?

Emotion.

Composition & Emotion

Every day, visual artists, photographers use their eye with elements of design and compositional techniques. How they're used creates emotion, a unique perspective, a pause and escape moment.

  • Applying the rule of thirds
  • Leading lines 
  • Avoiding distracting backgrounds
  • Balancing elements 
  • Finding symmetry & patterns 
  • Using viewpoint & perspective
  • Managing depth of field – foreground, middle, and background
  • Framing 
  • Cropping 
  • Color
  • Space
  • Texture

Capturing Emotions = Timeless Treasures

What makes you or someone pause when they see an image? When we go through our social feeds, the like button gets pushed many times over as we scroll.

But what about the image that makes you stop? Read the caption? Comment? (besides the postings from your friends).

Emotion in photography covers the gamut. From joy, laughter, celebration to relaxing, quiet humor, haunting, and even sad.

Photographing an emotional moment doesn't guarantee the viewer feels something.

Your creative eye and composition determine what happens once it makes it to final media.

The emotion at the time of capture or the feeling your image brings out in others. Let's explore a few images that pull the viewer into the moment.

When you look at the images below, what element draws you into the moment?

Bliss

In the image below you can't help but smile at the child's laughter. You can literally almost hear it. What makes the emotion come across?

selective focus photography of child laughing
Pure bliss by Photo by S&B Vonlanthen

Together

The team has no faces, no real action.

Photo by Shane Rounce

Mad & Angry

Animal expressions? Priceless! Was this taken at a zoo? In the wild? It doesn't matter. Instead of striving for the ‘bird on a stick' type of image, practice patience in watching nature.

They preen, yawn, squeak and stretch. Waiting for the moment versus settling for the traditional identification shot pays off.

wildlife photography of monkey near tree trunk
Photo by Lewis Roberts

Emptiness

Many of us have experienced or have someone close that's lived through mild and serious injuries and illnesses. This past year filled us with images of empty streets, home isolation, and vacant waiting areas due to personal safety.

The room below? Clean. Bright. Shiny. And empty.

white room interior
Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia

Romantic, Spring Fever

Spring. The time for renewal. Romance abounds. The capture of the cyclists? It's definitely not about the bike. The simple gesture silhouetted conveys togetherness, enjoying each other's company immersed in a beautiful sunset.

woman on bike reaching for man's hand behind her also on bike
Photo by Everton Vila

Beauty

Ah, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It also rests in the eye of the photographer.

One person's view of beauty, such a big bold flower with a cute honey bee invokes fear into someone who's super allergic to bee stings.

The good news with photography is that looking at beauty in all forms is quite safe!

timeless treasures tulips
Timeless Treasures in our Tulips by Sheen Watkins

Comfort

Through the chaos, there's the need for calm. In hectic environments, the need for solace.

brown puppy on bed
Photo by Roberto Nickson

The puppy in the fluffy blanket is waiting patiently to comfort their owner, their best friend.

As photographers, we're also artists. We feel and see elements that many non-photographer/artists don't consider in a given moment. Those elements are transferred into imagery that conveys emotion and connects with viewers.

Give yourself a photographic challenge when photographing your next subject. How does that moment, subject, and what's happening around you make you feel? How will you convey that specific emotion into that image?

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About Author

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Sheen Watkins is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, instructor, author and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

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