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  • Writer's pictureMark Heathcote

Some Great Photographs and How They Inspire Me

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

New years resolution : Do more blog articles. Why? Because it makes me think about my own photography and the direction I should be going with it. It also makes me look at the work of others. Every time I write something, I realize why it is so important to study great photographs and to compare them to my own work. This is how to get inspired, recognize your failings, and ultimately continue to improve as a photographer.

So, here are some photographs that I greatly admire and what I can learn from them to apply to my own work. All photographs are used with the kind permission of Magnum Photos .

Layers, space and complexity
©Alex Webb / Magnum Photos

This first image reminds me of a few things which I often fail to achieve, namely; Complexity, layers, a filled frame, and space. Despite the complexity of the image, it is still simple and has space around the subjects. This is difficult to achieve in a constantly moving scene.

The important lesson for me here is to recognize the potential of a scene and then work it very hard - this image would have needed some luck (IMO), so there were probably a LOT of frames taken to achieve this. You need to create your own luck by recognizing potential and then being persistent. You also have to be pretty brave here since children are being photographed; this was in Cuba I believe, so maybe photographing children there is not so much of an issue. Always be safe but push the boundaries.

Be Brave, take opportunities
©Trent Parke / Magnum Photos

Now, I don't know if Trent Parke knew these kids, of if he came across them, but there are lessons either way. Again, Trent would have worked the scene probably for some time in order to get the layers, the space, the filled frame and the main point of interest all coming together.

If this was some sort of family event, then the lesson is to take advantage of such events and shoot. It is all to easy to take a seat and have a beer (or wine). Family gatherings can be used to grab moments which would otherwise be very challenging.

If he did not know the children, then the lesson is to be brave. He clearly was not hiding what he was doing since the child is posing for the camera. Trent may well have asked for permission, but either way, it reminds me to be braver, albeit also be careful.

Think Outside the Box
orange balloons
©Trent Parke / Magnum Photos

Here is another great image that stands alone. It works due to a combination of the four figures, the blue / orange contrast (always a great combo), the filled frame, and the complexity. So what inspiration can I get from this?

Had I been walking past this scene, I would have seen some potential photographs, but I doubt I would have gone right up to the balloon and shoot through it. It reminds me that a scene can be worked hard to find something a bit different, but that doesn't just mean shooting from different angles, it means really thinking about a scene and trying things that 'probably' won't work. I often won't take a shot if I think it won't work. I need to stop doing this and just take it anyway. Sometimes these things do unexpectedly work, and the results can be amazing.


Although I kind of already know this stuff. I still need to constantly remind myself. I find it useful to do this right before venturing out with the camera. It gives me something to work towards in my mind rather than shooting aimlessly.

Always try the shot, work the scene, fill the frame, build layers and be brave. Do all that and you / I will be awesome.


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