Have you ever been out with a non-photographer? You know, those people who keep walking when you stop. Have you ever tried to explain to them your affliction? Have you ever tried explaining it to yourself?
Try this: as you raise your camera to shoot, ask yourself “what is it that I see?”. That’s what the picture is about, so that’s what it should contain.
If you had to explain to a friend (a very patient friend, or even your non-photographer) why you were about to take this picture, what would you tell them? Imagine your friend didn’t know an f stop from a ‘we’re effing stopping again” and you had to explain in simple terms what you could see so that they understood. What do you tell them? What is the key thing that you saw? Imagine you asked them to stand in your spot. Show them how that thing does that, and that thing does this in relation to it, or whatever you saw. Imagine showing them the scene that is to become the picture.
Would they get a sense that you see differently (or even better)? Would they get a sense that you will turn the prosaic to the poetic with something you will do to the image later? Or will they zap it with their mobile phone, grunt a thanks and walk on?
It’s an interesting question – what can you see as a photographer that non-believers can’t? The wrong answer would be that you take the same pictures as them with a more expensive camera. The better answer is that you make a better picture – something that captures more, or better, what was visible.
So – next time you lift your camera, ask yourself what you see. Then take more of that.