What Happens When We Shoot Side-by-Side?

We often get questions about what it’s like to shoot together.  Do we end up with the same shots over and over again? No. We really don’t. Jay and I have very different styles, and we usually come away with photos that feel pretty different, even when we’re shooting in the same location. A while ago, I wrote a post called Stand By Me, where I showed a few examples of shots we’ve taken on location together. It turned out to be a pretty popular post, but people have asked for more examples. So, here you go! What do you think? Do you see consistent differences between my style and Jay’s?

  • Glen Eilt, Scotland
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We both photographed these beautiful rainbows over Loch Eilt in Scotland, but I zoomed in to fill the frame with a single tree and the colorful double arches. Jay went wide to include more trees on the island, and the grass in the foreground. This is pretty typical of our differing styles. Jay tends to include as much as he can to show the whole scene, and I’m always looking for ways to simplify.

  • Calm - Varina Patel
  • Everglades National Park, Florida (FL), USA

We took these shots during a workshop in the Florida Everglades. I used a neutral density filter to get a long exposure shot just before sunrise. Jay waited until after the sun rose and captured the early morning flow on the surface of the water

  • Through the Rain - Varina Patel
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Shooting in the rain forest in Olympic National Park in Washington means you might get rained on. I took a soft-focus shot through the windshield of our parked car. The heavy rain produced a soft blur for an abstract effect. Jay took his shot a few minutes before the storm really settled in. He wanted to show the distinct beauty of the arching branches against a backdrop of tall pines.

  • Lanikai, Oahu - Hawai'i, USA
  • Lanai Kai, Oahu, Hawaii (HI), USA

We stood on a steep hillside above the beach on Oahu to take these shots. I chose to frame a shot of pretty palms with backdrop of surreal “water-sky”. Jay zoomed  in to capture a more traditional portrait of the islands that showcased the shifting colors of the scene.

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  • Jokulsarlon, Iceland

Here’s another example of how we do that. My shot of an iceberg at Jökulsárlón in Iceland is very different from Jay’s. He chose to include the motion of the water for a more dynamic image. My shot is quieter and my focus is on texture and tonality. You might notice that our colors are different here, too. That’s because Jay took his photo a little later than I took mine. He is starting to get a bit of color in the sky as the sun thinks about rising. I took my shot well before sunrise, while the world was still a deep blue. Of course, we see a bit differently, too. Our color choices reflect our own memory and interpretation of the scene.

  • Waiting
  • Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

And here’s a shot from Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. We waited for a long time for the fog to lift that morning, and we captured a collection of photos. My photo is very simple, and I chose a black and white conversion to simplify it even further. Jay’s shot is wider – once again – and makes the most of the gorgeous colors that showed up a little later in the morning.

It’s always fascinating to open up our photos after a trip and compare our different collections. We’ve learned to see through each other’s eyes in a way – so I often have a pretty good idea of what Jay will be shooting when we’re arrive on location. And there’s nothing better than having someone to travel with – especially if that person is also your best friend.

About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.