Don’t cut my feet off Ma! Framing your subject.

I do get frustrated when I cut the feet off of my subjects.  I could of course crop them to the knees (or above).  But typically if I am framing my shot and I am able to get the feet of my subject in there… then I should do it.

Photos (even instant ones) should be cohesive pieces of art.  Otherwise they can be tossed in the garbage heap only to be found by a wandering homeless who will then use it for a hankey.  Don’t let bum boogers besmirch, befoul or bespackle your bespoke imagery!  Imagine that each photo is screaming out for you to pause before you take it and think for just one golly second!  Each shot is an attack.  The subject is the prey and you the hunter.

So let’s optimize our hunting skills and come back with the finest meats to give to our children.  To frame each subject correctly, we need to break down framing into some different categories.  I like making lists to keep organized.  So let’s make a list of the different kinds of telescoping with the subject:

  1. Major closeup, face takes up over 20% of the photo.  Main focus is on the facial expression.
  2. Body closeup, waist-up takes up a great deal of the photo.  Main focus is still facial expression but style of clothing/senario is beginning to become more important
  3. Full body (with detail in the face).  Body is fully visible but stretches the full length of the photo.  Important details may include emotional expression but scenic elements become much more influential.
  4. Full body (less detail in the face).  Body of main subject is used for reference.  Facial expression is of little importance and style of clothing of little.  Scenic elements become the focus.

There’s a pattern in this puzzle…  The further away you get, the main focal points move from emotion ->body -> scene.  This is also moving from portraiture to landscape.  Both are accessible in street photography of course.  And when both are done correctly then magic can happen.  But it is important to know which kind of shot you are going for here.  This is one of the most basic and fundamental choices you have to make before you pull the trigger and kill your prey.  And this determines in large part the outcome of the photo.  So let’s work at this and get good!

Focusing on failures for some people can frustrate them into raising the white flag.  Let us not be downtrodden for we are street photographers.  Failure only makes us strong, as Nietzsche would say.  So here are some close to success… but not quite:

That left hand would have been nice…

His feet, although stinky and corn-ridden, are necessary…

What I would have given for that HAT!!!  Hasid’s are so tough to shoot!  I should have backed up…. although I guess I was lucky enough even to get his head and some curly fries :-).

In the excitement to get these photos I overlooked some basic framing tenets that should always be followed.  Remember that list of frames and think about how your subject will fit in that frame.  How big should the Hasid be compared to the scene of the train?  Will the feet be in there?  I know his body will be in there but what about the extremities?  Work… may she never be done as she is my main source of compulsion.


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