Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Photographing the Farmer's Market
Hustle and bustle results in great photographs. That this adage is made up doesn't make it wrong. I am by no means an experienced or professional photographer. But, recently, I was trying to figure out why I am so happy with the pictures that I take when I go to the farmers market and these are my conclusions. If you are feeling like you can't take a good picture, take your camera to the market.
Photographs are about getting the right things in the frame. So, when you are photographing your dog licking the bone, you need both of those things. But, if you also get the tv cord and some old socks, these might distract the viewer. At the same time, it is also about luck. If you have your dog licking a bone and your husband running in with an empty casserole--hilarious. At the market, there are so many things happening that if you miss one moment, you will find another very quickly. And, for me, taking a camera to the market makes me more observant and in fact a better market-shopper.
Open air farmer's markets add to the photographer's bounty thanks bright light and engaging colors. None of these photographs were color corrected--the outdoor light is magic. While obviously, markets have strengths in terms of food stuffs. (Where else can you get nettles and Japanese asparagus?) Look for the most engaging item, and by that I mean, that thing which you love. Super into asparagus? Loving the radish? (They are my muse presently.) And, then set it down in film or digitally. If you like your subject, your photograph will be more interesting. Look for that detail and snap a couple images.
While the best produce is often gathered when purchasing early, those early morning photographs will have a very different quality than those taken near noon. The morning light (say 7:00 AM) will be even and diffuse. By Noon, that light will give you strong chiaroscuro. And, wouldn't that strong contrast be wonderful on something soft like lettuce or something ugly like Jerusalem artichokes? (Below the first picture was taken at 11:30 AM and the second at 7:00 AM)
Finally, markets are great place to take pictures of people. In this digital age, there are clear issues of privacy, so I have made it a personal rule to not photograph anyone without asking and I don't post faces on my blog. But, this of course is your choice. With people, take many more pictures, after all, unlike the vegetables, they move. And, anticipate the movement. If he is reaching into a bag, click the second before he reveals that perfect apple.
Frankly, you could have stopped at the fifth sentence in this postand still take great pictures; farmer's markets are the ideal novice photographer's venue.
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