You can change your emphasis to improve your mental outlook AND your photography. Learn why and how to do it. It’s easier than you think.
You’ve landed on one of 28 posts about photography and how to improve your skills. If you’re a creative, blogger, or photography enthusiast, you’ve landed in the right spot!
How to Go from Mug Shots to Portraits
“I’ve put a copy of our mug book in everyone’s mailbox,” the development director at our school announced. “You’ll be able to match faces to names.”
“More like thug-book,” I muttered under my breath, immediately chagrinned that I’d voiced the thought out loud. Even if it were true. I’d grabbed my copy on the way to staff meeting, and a quick glance through it proved my theory.
Staff and students alike all looked as if we’d posed at the police station after committing a crime. I knew why, but as a new employee, I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. When the development director called me to her office for my mug shot, she had me stand against the wall while she stood in front of me and snapped a photo with her point-and-shoot camera.
All she lacked was a height chart on her wall. To her credit, she didn’t ask me to face right and left. But with one small change, she could have taken more flattering photos of each of us. If she would have asked us to sit in a chair whilst she stood, the photo’s outcome would have gone from mug shot to portrait.
When someone lines up a camera with our face and takes a photo, they capture us in a way we don’t normally see each other. Tall people, short people, medium-height people—we almost never see eye-to-eye with everyone. We have multiple perspectives, different lighting, different clothing, different environments.
Maybe that’s why driver’s license photos always look awful, too. We stand in front of a camera aimed directly at our face. The flash adds a harsh light, and we rarely feel proud of the results. This puts the emphasis on just one perspective—one that 99.9% of the people in the world don’t find flattering. I just threw a number out there, but really, how many people come back from the DMV raving about their driver’s license photo?
Change Your Perspective
This post is about learning to put emphasis on different perspectives—both behind the camera lens and when faced with an area in your life where you feel stuck. I’ll tackle the need to a changed emphasis in our perspective, first.
Many times, feeling stuck keeps us from making progress, or, even worse, it sends us spinning into regression. An attendee to an Al-Anon meeting in October of 1981 said it best, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
In other words, if we emphasize the same thing over and over in our lives, we won’t change our results. In fact, we won’t change.If we emphasize the same thing over and over in our lives, we won't change. #change #perspective #selfcarehacks #write28days Click To Tweet
If we tell ourselves, “I can’t do this (whatever ‘this’ might happen to be), we put emphasis on our lack of ability. By changing our mindset and adding the word ‘yet,’ we change our emphasis and start to see the problem differently. Next time you catch yourself saying, “I can’t do this!” tack on the word ‘yet’ at the end of your proclamation. “I can’t do this, yet!”
My Battle with Hoses
I find it really easy to tell myself I can’t do something—especially if I don’t really want to do that thing. Don’t laugh, but I have a hate-hate relationship with hoses. Hoses of all kinds—water hoses, air compressor hoses, panty hose, you get the picture. Nothing makes me feel hot and bothered quicker than trying to return a hose to its proper place (or putting pantyhose on).
Hoses have tubular twists and turns they like to keep—usually in opposition of what I want. They have comfortable ruts and get cranky (or kinked) when I try to make them go in a different direction. The last time I had a fight with a hose, my husband got involved. “Stop fighting the hose,” he told me. “Just see which way it wants to go and go with it.”
I didn’t appreciate his wisdom at the time, but twenty minutes later I realized hoses don’t have brains, but I do. A hose can’t control itself, but I can control myself. Once I stopped looking at the hose as my enemy, I found it easier to coil it back in its proper place. I still don’t enjoy hoses (they often have mud or dust all over them), but I don’t get angry anymore.
Our minds act as powerful tools to help us solve problems, come up with creative solutions, and change the way we think and act. Unfortunately, we often get stuck looking at problems head-on and we put all the emphasis on the big, the bad, and the ugly.
But what if we learned to put the emphasis on a different area?
Changing the Emphasis of an Embarrassing Situation
Several years ago, I had a humiliating experience at work. Even worse, my humiliation came from something my husband said in front of other staff members. I had two choices. I could sink into depression under the weight of my humiliation, or I could put my emphasis on what he really wanted to say. In all honesty, he didn’t mean to humiliate me, humiliation just happened to be my knee-jerk response to his comment.
It took me a good half hour to stop staring my humiliation in the face and choose to think about what he had said from a different perspective. Once I was able to put the emphasis on his words and not my feelings of humiliation, I understood he had a really good point. I had a blindness to my own microaggressions.
His comment launched me on a trajectory of personal growth. I will always feel gratitude for his honesty. It took a while to get over the sting of humiliation, but I kept my focus on the growth I needed instead ruminating on my feelings in the moment.
So, whether you do battle with small things or struggle with your big feelings, a change in emphasis can help you change your attitude and your results.
Our Point of View Determines Our Emphasis
Likewise, when taking photos, we should work the scene to find a different perspective. Most people take photos whilst standing. But what would happen if you squatted down? What part of your subject would you emphasize? How would it look different? And what would happen if, while taking photos of people, you asked them to sit? Or you stood on a rock or a stepstool?
Good photography requires us to change the emphasis, the settings on our camera, and our point of view in order to tell the story we want to tell. I took some photos of my grandson this summer in Denali National Park with my iPhone. I didn’t have my DSLR handy, but I wanted to capture his enchantment with the fungi he found growing in a stump.
On my first attempt, I used the wide-angle lens and got too low. My poor grandson looks like he has a giant head. I changed my emphasis on the second shot by doing a semi-squat. I love the results—the camera captures his bright eyes, and his essential boyness—wet from jumping in puddles, gentle and not poking or breaking the fungi, and questioning why the fungi happen to grow right there.
Bring a Point of View with You
You determine the emphasis and the story you want your photo to tell. Change your perspective often to get optimum results. When photographing my daughter’s wedding, I took most of the shots while standing on an 18-in high step stool. Why? I’m shorter than both the bride and the groom and didn’t want to have a series of up-the-nose shots.
Tips for Wildlife
You’ll find you can change your point of view with landscapes and scenery pretty easy. After all, the landscape won’t hop or fly off just as you make an adjustment. With wildlife, I take one shot as soon as I see the animal or insect. Once I take the initial shot, I work on changing the emphasis.
If the wildlife cooperates, great. If not, I at least have the one shot. I’ve discovered that if I move slowly and quietly, I can often get very close to my subjects (not bears, of course) and take a series of shots. This toad looks pretty ho-hum in my first shot, but by moving slowly, I was able to lay on the ground in front of it and get a great shot that emphasized his cool eyes and the tiny flower in his mouth.
Your Turn to Choose Your Emphasis
It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you use, just get out there and try changing your point of view. Find an object and take your initial shot. Then, start changing your point of view and really search for the story.
Load the series onto your computer and decide which one you like the best. Post your before and after shots on my Self-Care Hacks Facebook page. If you’d like to add a line or two about a mental change in emphasis, I’d love to cheer you on!
Come Back Tomorrow
Tomorrow I’ll continue the Behind the Lens with a post on exasperation and equipment. Or maybe exasperating equipment.