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Friday, October 29, 2010

His Master's Finger

Finding the right shooting angle lets you selectively exclude elements from a photo, and make it far more compelling.

“Stay,” says the dog’s master with his finger, and the dog obeys, outside the Tewksbury, Ma. Middle School (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).

The Photo:
Kids’ relationships with their pets can provide both warm and humorous pictures. After searching fruitlessly for over an hour seeking a feature picture, I entered the parking lot of a local school to turn around and reverse direction. I spotted a dog sitting outside the school’s rear door, with the arm of the dog’s owner pointing out the back door telling the dog to “stay”. I immediately thought of the famous picture of the RCA dog cocking his head at the sound of his master’s voice coming from the phonograph (“His Master’s Voice”). In this case, the dog seemed to be devotedly obeying the arm and finger, not the voice, of its master because, from my vantage point, all I could see was the dog sitting obediently as its master’s hand protruded from the door pointing “stay”. Had I been viewing this from another angle, like in front of the school door, I would have merely seen the back of the dog and face of the owner, which would be far less interesting. Leaving out most of the owner’s body, except his arm and finger, made the picture far more effective. I shot a few variations of this scene, and came away with a pretty unique photo (later an award-winner), which seemed to require the title, “His Master’s Finger”.

3 Tips:
1) Children with their pets provide a range of interesting picture possibilities.
2) The angle from which you view a scene can determine whether it is a strong photo or not.
3) Omit elements you would normally include to sometimes make your photos more unusual and compelling.

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