What is impact? It is the WOW factor. An image with impact grabs a viewer’s attention.
How do you go about creating impact? This is a difficult question to answer because there are no hard or fast guidelines. But here are few ideas to get you started…
Define Your Subject
In many cases this is the first step in creating impact. Most photographers view the subject as a physical object. But that’s not always the case. Sometime it can be nothing more than mood. My chosen subjects are anything that grabs my attention and for this I often need to step back and allow myself to get lost in the location that I am trying to photograph. The more specific you are in defining your subject, the easier it is for you to highlight it in your photograph.
Use Out-of-the-Box Thinking
I love to photograph iconic locations. Let’s face it… who doesn’t? But I always make it a point to look around the iconic location to see what else I can find. It may be difficult to pry your eyes away from the icon you have come to shoot but if you keep an open mind, you may discover the opportunity to create impact even if you are not photographing that icon. On our way to Horseshoe Bend we ran into this breathtaking scene and quickly abandoned our plan to photograph the Horseshoe Bend. We captured this shot instead.
Work with Available Light
One of the fundamental differences between landscape photography and other forms of photography is that, with landscape photography, the photographer has no control over the light. All landscape photographers complain about having less than ideal light conditions… but the reality is that you can create photos with impact even in the dreaded blue sky days or in middle of the afternoon. Here are few examples of photos that were shot in middle of the day under harsh lighting conditions.
Use Compositional Elements to Draw Attention to Your Subject
We use compositional elements like colors, textures, mood, weather, contrast, and more to draw attention to our subjects. For example, a single human figure in the middle of a deserted island stands out from its background. A spotlight effect created by an open patch in the clouds can create a strong tonal contrast between the subject and the background which draws attention to your subject.
We use our camera settings to create impact for our photographs. Camera settings can be used to enhance the mood of the scene, create dreamy effects, bring out colors, and more. Here are some examples where we used camera settings to create impact in our photos. We sometimes use shallow aperture to capture a mood by creating a dreamy effect… or deliberately create abstracts by capturing an out-of-focus image.
These concepts are what defines our latest Creating Impact Course. We go beyond the basics by helping you understand how to use different elements of composition (colors, contrast, textures, negative space, and more) and camera settings to capture photos with visual impact. Our Creating Impact Course was filmed entirely in Iceland and includes in-depth cases studies that demonstrate how to build your photograph around your subject matter.
Furthermore, we’ve partnered with professional photographer Anne McKinnell to bring you Lightroom tutorials for the Creating Impact Course case studies. Anne demonstrates how she uses her streamlined Lightroom workflow to process the images from our Creating Impact Course.