When you find your artist’s eye, your vision and personal perspective convey the story you are trying to communicate using visual media. The digital canvas no doubt expands the possibilities for how you articulate your original “take” and tell any story.
Of course, stories are a spectacular, powerful vehicle to relay thoughts and ideas in a most memorable-to-people kind of way. But, maybe, you haven’t thought much about how pictures carry a story or make an impact on your heart.
Or how articulating doesn’t have to be verbal or written.
I know I didn’t look at it that way until I met Lee Love, a professional photographer, and well-experienced photojournalist. A learner and sharer, Lee explains his background like this, “I am a commercial advertising photographer and director, so when working with big brands, you have to understand relationships. It’s NOT about the photography; it’s about trust and knowing you know their business.”
He further explains that what this means is clients are hiring you for a trusted “artist’s eye,” knowing you can convey meaning for them visually.
I love this thought, Lee Love! But, in this post, I’m going to share a few more things Lee has me thinking about, and you may find intriguing and useful, too especially if you create in the digital space where visual opportunities exist in many formats, styles, and media types.
You are painting a visual picture through photos, videos, and other graphical tools and techniques, which matter for how your work is perceived. Make sure it speaks.
But the real magic is not the colors, tone, composition, lighting, or tools, although they all matter. What brings a story to life is the way YOU tell it via the perspective only you can bring. It’s not what the subject is, but how you show it that gives it life, allowing you to reveal something memorable.
A Sticky Story
A memorable story is a sticky story people remember. A brand or business is certainly looking to be sticky, whether obtaining or remaining in a small space in people’s minds.
The visual impact you deliver is another avenue to add sticky stories to your content.
And even though I grabbed this information from Lee’s Photo Mentor Academy on YouTube, specifically talking about photography, I think some of the lessons are universal.
Hint: Besides, creating original photos for your digital projects allows you to never worry about copyright questions. Plus, you can easily personalize or brand visual content assets by producing your own.
Building a library of photo and video footage indeed promises to be useful for your digital creations, right? Even if you’re using other services for audio/video/photo footage with legal rights usage, how you edit or frame it, using your artist’s eye, makes all the difference. Mainly, to help create and communicate a decisive, meaningful outcome.
NOTE: For photo editing workshops or courses and all the photography-related questions you have, check out Lee’s YouTube Photo Mentor Academy Channel. And connect with Lee Love for some help whether you’re new or advanced; Lee’s the guy to cover you and help.
Again, Lee’s videos, although photography-focused, offer valuable lessons for all visual work you produce. Or aspire (as in my case) to produce. He prefaces how to critique work by suggesting you ask these crucial questions of each visual your make.
How Do You Measure Visual Success?
For example, if a photo doesn’t offer a point-of-view people understand, is it viable? If people don’t get it, is the work communicating effectively?
- Does the image tell a story?
- Does it communicate by creating an emotion or conveying your intent?
- Finally, does your audience understand what you are trying to say?
It’s all an interpretation, so combining the medium’s art and science with your artist’s eye gives you the parameters for what you want to emulate.
Some successful work abandons all science and still wins the heart and stays in mind. However, things like lighting, composition, and color psychology, to name a few, are vital pieces to highlight scientific parameters for an improved result. Overall, a better communicated and understood creation wins the day!
Look for some tips to find your artist’s eye in a sec, but first, let’s look more at the science.
The significance of lighting is more than you imagine. Lee suggests you analyze lighting to understand the ins and outs to get the best results with your work. As one who experiments with lighting for videos, a ring light feels like the most significant revelation ever. It turns out; there is so much more. SO MUCH MORE!
Watch Lee’s video doing lighting forensics to uncover more in-depth details for lighting enlightenment. He states, “Lighting is the key,” and then magnifies exactly why with examples. Lee explains how lighting is everything, emphasizing how light and shadows (or lack of light) shape two dimensional or flat photos. By studying light and shadows, you can define and give forms, even texture, to flat media.
“I light everything I shoot anyway—indoor or outside—because it gives me complete control.” ~Lee Love
The more you investigate and experiment with lighting, the more you understand the scope of light’s contributions to story and design. It influences a scene’s “temperature” and feel, from cool to warmer moods, atmospheric ambient settings, and tone. The way you use lighting may become a stylistic feature to projects, a visual trademark, perhaps.
But mostly, lighting speaks to those things Lee deems to be most important for your photography or visual work, like:
- Depicting a story in what you create
- Soliciting emotions setting a visual mood and story design
- Conveying an interpretation or understanding to others
Once you gain awareness of lighting concepts and understand the production value it delivers, you suddenly, well, “see the light.” Ha
You realize how much lighting alone can alter or improve your work in both big and small ways.
Incrementally, make friends with light! I think you’ll find the science of lighting influences artistic presentation in your productions.
Small Tips To Start
To frame your efforts as you go about building visual assets and a portfolio, Lee gives you 3 ideas to keep in mind and work around from the get-go.
His suggestions are:
- Work from concepts
- Collect styles you like in a swipe file
- Work in native image sizes specific to each social platform you create
Working from concepts offers many benefits to quality. For example, making a note of things you want to capture helps make sure you don’t miss or forget a needed element. It helps you manage b-roll footage and enhances story aspects by conveying ideas thoughtfully and more fluently.
It helps to notice things that attract you, and having a swipe file inspires, along with helping you get a feel for an aesthetic. A good swipe file leads to endless ideas for you.
The less you have to manipulate, edit, and otherwise alter your original, the better. Working with the end in mind means you are delivering the right content to the right platform. Optimize at the onset by keeping the specs to where you are publishing in mind.
Tips to Find Your Artist’s Eye
Based on the premise a photo has two parts, you + what you shoot, Lee explains, “your interpretation brings your unique point-of-view to your work.”
So, with this in mind, the first thing you need to find your artist’s eye is to recognize the importance of your original and one-of-a-kind vision. Understanding how you see the world combined with the subject matter you select is the mixture no one else can replicate, making your work yours alone.
Next, Lee advises you to work on Active Seeing. By engaging in active seeing, he reminds you to work at taking it off auto-pilot, so you become a professional observer. Notice the details and gain situational awareness. Actively look around you, noticing people, colors, lighting, and movement. Take it all in. Observe broadly and intimately.
This third tip starts with the idea lighting IS photography, and you probably already soaked up earlier in this post-Lee’s concentration on the importance of using lighting to create the results you want. So, “…gain an awareness of lighting,” says Lee. Notice times-of-day, study the shadows, note textures and accents from lighting or lack of, and generally, analyze lighting. I love this exercise, and awareness brings insight. You’ll see!
Finally, discover seeing vs. understanding. Lee is talking about visual understanding here. He implores you to look beyond to observe and examine intently and to consider your purpose within the frame. Because when you analyze details and consider everything before shooting exactly what’s in the frame, you can influence outcomes.
Noticing lighting and learning to use it to create the scene you want is only one aspect, albeit a foundational piece, making up the technicalities and details that are all part of finding your artist’s eye. Which, in the end, has a lot to do with finding your visual voice and presenting a meaningful story without words.
What’s your take?
Special Note: The photo for the title visual and all the images in this post are courtesy of Lee Love, and I sincerely want to thank him.
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