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5 Tips To
Words and Images by Alex Strohl
Take a quick glance at Alex Strohl’s work, and you’ll consistently find one thing: his photos make you feel something. And whatever this something may be for you — awe, grandeur, perspective, joy...it takes a special kind of photograph to instill those kinds of feelings. Join us as we hear his top five tips for how to take the kind of photos that move people.
Some of my favorite photos have happened by chance. Learning to see, hear, and feel more is something that we should all exercise, especially when looking for photographs to take. This begins with looking at a scene in a detailed way. For example, in the photo below — I went as high as I could to overlook the lake because the higher you are, the longer the reflection of the mountains will be. Also, I purposely made sure the kayaker was there. I had to be mindful of the placement so that the kayak didn’t blend in with the reflection of the mountain range. These seemingly small details add up to create an image that’s harmonious and leaves room for the viewer to feel.
Colors evoke feelings in us, even at a subconscious level, and chances are that you have a favorite color. Can people tell what it is when they look at your pictures? Personally, I feel drawn towards alpine lakes and snow capped mountains because I love the color blue. This preference is thread through all my photos, but I was oblivious for it for a long time. It’s only upon looking back that I realized it. Maybe you love green, orange, or purple — whatever it is, bring it into your photos. You never know who will relate to it as well.
Something you can start today is noticing scale — keep it in the back of your mind. Each of us has the ability to to find perspective, so look for ways to give a sense of depth to your photographs. We’re pretty lucky because the outdoors provide plenty of features that help you photograph it. Sometimes it’s a tree, a flower patch, or a lone alpine hut. Look for the things that you can immediately tell are separated from the rest of the scene — the ones that stand out. If you can make that little something very small or very big, you will evoke a feeling of wonder in the viewer.
Being in tune with your feelings and emotions can help your pictures carry an additional dimension that the viewer will appreciate. If one day you are feeling really happy and optimistic, get out there to take a few photographs. Ride that wave of happiness, as it will shine through your images. You’ll photograph color, details, and contrast in a different kind of way. If you’re like me and carry more of a steady mood, find other ways to stimulate your world. I do this by remembering a theme or a message when I go to take photos. The images I take are a means to an end, my way of expression. Finding what your message is should be your first step. Don’t have one yet? Write down a list of things that inspire you and a common thread will appear — follow it.
Getting outside with friends has many benefits, seen and unforeseen. For the photo below, I fell in love with the windy creek, and I wanted a way to show how it felt to be there. Because of this, I had my two friends walk to the other side of the creek towards the sun. I didn’t give them too strict of direction — I like leaving some aspects up to the subjects. (Some of my favorite photos happen when the subject is not even aware that I’m taking photos.)
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Alex Strohl is a Madrid born, French photographer whose work is characterized by his extraordinary travels. Instead of creating contrived scenes, Strohl creates authentic moments and captures them as they unfold before him—continually blurring the lines between work and life.