I was reading a book recently called “Beyond the Obvious” by Phil McKinney (great book by the way) that challenges people to think about concepts and questions, and then encourages people to look beyond the knee-jerk reactions and responses. This same mentality exists in the world of photography. We see a scene, a portrait, or something that catches our eye and our instinct is to capture that “something”.
McKinney illustrates his point in asking the reader to answer the question:
“What is half of 13?”
He then goes on to show that there are many responses to this. The canned answer is always 6.5, and that’s what came to my mind too. But in going “beyond the obvious”, he shows that if you think about it from the perspective of say, a deck of cards, and 13 cards in a suit. Since the ten, jack, queen and king all are values of 10, then really, half of thirteen in that scenario is 5.5, not 6.5. You could also say that half of thirteen is really “thir” with “teen” being the second half! By illustrating that you can divide either numerically or semantically, entirely different perspectives, thoughts, and answers can be right at the same time! Once I got on the mental plane of looking at things differently, my own result was that half of 13 could also be 1 or 3 – applying the semantic concept to the number…
That is such a great concept, and one I’ve always tried to help people understand here in many different ways. The “half of thirteen” way is probably one one the most succinct I’ve ever seen though. Let’s take that concept now and apply it to photography. Go get your camera! Right now…seriously! Go get your camera, and pick some random object in your room, office, or where ever you happen do be. I don’t care if it’s your SLR, P&S, or camera phone.
Now what? Take 13 pictures of that object. Make each one different! Change the angle, change the light, change the object itself. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do 13 different things. I can guarantee you that at least one of those photos will be something new, unique, and even compelling. Now, take the most compelling one, and post it here.
To get you started on the right mentality, if you’re not already, here’s my own set of thirteen:
The shots above come from the “Wreck of the Peter Iredale” – on the coast of Astoria, Oregon. Now, granted, the setting sun, and the unique nature of the composition made my 13 shots a little easier, but there’s now reason you can’t do the same. Take a speaker and shoot it from as many angles as you can. Run out of angles? Try a different tack and change the lighting! What happens if you pop an on-camera flash? Try throwing your hand up to act as a barn door of sorts. There’s no end to potential…it just takes thinking outside the box!