One of the main skills of a photographer is the capture the best image of a scene, or a moment in time. Add to this the ability to notice things that many non-photographers don’t notice, like telegraph poles, lamps, car aerials or trees growing out a person’s head; people or extraneous objects in the background – all objects that shouldn’t appear in the image and interfere with the main focus and would ruin a good photograph.

With much easier access to cameras – on our mobile phones, and good quality ‘point and shoot’ options, many people think they are good photographers. However, not everyone has the ‘eye’ for capturing a truly engaging, or beautiful photograph. There is talent and skill at play here.

There are many things in life we can just DIY – however when a good professional does that ‘thing’ the result is often very different.

Photographers approach capturing images in a different way. It isn’t just luck when we take a good photo. Thought is taken about many other things, and generally, I think we have an artistic view of life.

Five things I notice as a photographer:

When I’m out and about with my camera, which I always carry with me, plus several lens, I’m on the lookout for the following things:


Changes in light is one of the most exciting things to notice when you’re travelling around outdoors or even taking photos indoors. How light falls onto a subject or object is fascinating and sometimes breathtakingly beautiful.

In a predominantly dark room, you may suddenly have a ray of light that catches on the side of a person’s face, or makes a piece of glass shimmer.

Then I find the right setting to capture that brightness against the darkness (or vice versa), which for many amateurs can be difficult.


The opposite of light, looking for shadow is what I particularly love. Understanding shadows helps you understand light.

Shadows change the shape, intensity and even the colour, angle and direction of light.

When I use shadows as the main part of the composition for a photo, I use it to enhance the contrast of a subject, or of the subject itself. Shadows can create amazing abstract patterns, add mood, drama and texture.


Quite often, I notice patterns created by light and shadow, as I’ve mentioned above. But also, sometimes, I see patterns in every day things, such as a row of shaped, box trees, or the symmetry of some buildings; reflective patterns in windows or in puddles; use of tiles on a subway, diminishing in size as the tunnel stretches away from me; a group of animals standing in what initially may look random, but by moving to a different position, they might have created a pattern. Use of colour can create pattern too.

Negative space:

In photography, this is where a subject and the empty space around that subject can be emphasised. This means that although the viewer’s eye is drawn to the central figure, the emptiness surrounding it defines that figure or object. No spurious things to interfere with the focus.

Unusual weather:

This is another reason why I always carry my camera – because quite often the weather changes and you can suddenly be faced with an incredibly dramatic sky, or a rainbow, or ominous dark, or interesting shaped clouds. You need to be able to capture them at that moment, these are opportunities that don’t always occur again. You certainly don’t have time to nip home for your camera!

So, what makes photographers view the world with different eyes?

This is a big question. Is it nature or nurture or both? Am I wired to see things differently and to notice things others might pass by? Who knows?

I’m always looking for unusual situations, odd juxtapositions between things such as people and animals. I find even little things can be utterly extraordinary and I tune into that possibility wherever I go.

I look for the dramatic; dramatic skies or amazing clouds, which are often then useful for other photographs, particularly when photographing property – where I need to add interesting skies to alter the reality of the dull day when I took that photo.

Constantly, I’m on the lookout for moments that I can capture, knowing they will make a brilliant photograph, and one that will keep the viewer focusing on the aspect of the image I want them to focus on, rather than on things that shouldn’t be there!

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