3 Iconic Photos You Can Learn From
Photography is thinking you’re not good enough and having a go anyway.
That’s just the way it is and, actually, we wouldn’t change that. Having that self-doubt, if tempered, can be a great motivation to get better. This is especially true when you consider that every photographer has doubted themselves. Even the authors behind the most famous photographs had insecurities, and yet they came away with photographs that will live on forever.
Now, we’re not saying that your photographs are going to go down in history. That’s not what photography is about. Photography is about creating something that works for you. It’s about having fun, sharing pictures with your friends on Instagram, or using them to create an Instagram photo book. It’s about capturing moments, framing your world, and putting it in your own light.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at those photographs and how you can learn from them to forge the path to your own best self.
The Manhattan Shoot
In 1962, photographer David Bailey kick-started the swinging 60s with a photo shoot that has gone down in history. Alongside model Jean Shrimpton, the duo were tasked with conducting a fashion shoot for Vogue, but rather than using landmarks like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building as backgrounds, they got up close and personal with Manhattan. Photographs were taken on dirty street corners, in front of traffic lights, and in front of members of the public.
As a photographer, there’s a lot you can learn from this. Photography isn’t exactly about capturing something perfect – it’s about capturing reality. The realer the scene is, the more a viewer can relate to the image. If you’re working out how to take good urban photography, try not to go to the landmarks and pretty architecture. Get into the streets, meet the people, and embrace the imperfection. That’s how you come away with something true and beautiful.
The Einstein Moment
Perhaps the most iconic photograph in the world depicts Albert Einstein with his tongue sticking out. Captured by a photographer on Einstein’s birthday, the moment completely changed the world's view of the scientist. At the time, photographs were staged and organised, to the point where even Albert Einstein – known to be eccentric – looked smart, professional, and serious. But this photograph showed the professor in his true light, with his guard down and his funny side on full show.
As a photographer, it shows how important it is to let the scene play out in front of you. This is about capturing things in the moment and letting personality shine over anything else. In this photograph, the real Albert Einstein is unveiled. So, when you’re organising your photos for a photo book maker, don’t just look for the ones that look perfect. Look for the ones that are spontaneous. They might just be the best photographs you’ve ever taken.
In 2015, photographer Alan McFadyen took the shot of a lifetime. Taken in Scotland, the Kingfisher depicts a Kingfisher bird breaking the surface of a loch, swooping in for a morsel to eat. What’s incredible about the photograph is the intricacy. The Kingfisher takes up one-half of the frame, with its reflection taking over the other half. The photograph is also taken at the precise moment of the surface breaking. At the moment captured, the Kingfisher’s beak is only just touching the water, to the point where there’s hardly even a ripple.
The best thing to learn from this photograph is how much patience it required. To capture the image, McFadyen had to wait around 6 years, 4,200 hours to get the perfect symmetrical shot. That’s dedication! It just shows how the shot you’re looking for can happen, even if it’s not going to be as quick as you’d like. In photography, sometimes everything just has to come together in one perfect go. But you need to make sure that you’re there when it does.
Look at that. We've come full circle, talking about self-doubt and perseverance again. But it's really the best thing any photographer can learn. Never doubt yourself. Never doubt the photograph.