On Getting EPIC Photos.

by Gavin Seim: Here I sit hammering away on these keys at 12:30am, wondering why I’m still up. I’ve started thinking about that “EPIC” photo we’re are always trying to capture. You know the one. You see them in Magazines, you see them in other people’s work. Of course opinions on whats that epic photo may vary by your taste and experience level, but if you’re your own critic it might seem like epic images are everywhere but your own portfolio. Then again maybe it’s because you’re actually that bad! Just kidding.

What is Epic. In Websters I found this… “extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope” Bottom line is it’s that perfectly amazing photo we always want to bring home. There are unwritten rules in my mind that define the various levels of epic, but rather than confuse you lets just agree that to be epic it has to be really good. I get them sometimes, but often when I think I’m trying the hardest I have the worst time and I figured out why. It’s because an epic photograph is not so much about finding an epic subject as it is learning to make an ordinary subject epic.

For example. I have a far easier time getting epic portraits than I do with fine art. “Why is that” I thought to myself. It’s not because I can’t photograph other scenes well. Sometimes I mentally make the excuse that I just don’t have good enough locations to work with. “Maybe I need to go somewhere exotic” I think. But I know better. Washington is one of the most beautiful and varied places in the world.

Why then? It’s because on a paid portrait session the pressure is on and I happen to work well under pressure. I don’t get to choose my subject. I have to make my client look good and I have to do with in the conditions available to me in the time allotted. Yes it’s more stressful for sure but it makes me look deeper at how I can be creative with a scene. I don’t always achieve that epic image but I always bring home good work. On the other hand when I get in my car and go shopping for something from which to make fine art, I tend to look for the scene that’s already epic. Sure, I tell myself to look at the details because it’s easy to miss amazing things, but too often I just keep moving until I find something that strikes me as amazing. Something easy. I’ve made great images that way, but there’s so much more to see.

So how do I plan to change. How will the I become more better this year.  I plan to start taking the time to make ordinary things into great photos. Maybe even to go so far as taking a specific subject (boring or not) and forcing myself to use that subject until I find a way to make an remarkable image from it. Anything can be an epic image if you use it right. In all my browsing I see photographers take simple things made epic. Sometimes I post them to my Twitter.

Bottom line… Instead of looking for the epic subject, look at how you can make your subject epic.

  • 1. Epic simplicity for epic photographs. Reduce clutter, look closer, stay longer.
  • 2. Ordinary or extraordinary, consider any subjects possibilities.
  • 3. Don’t just shoot and walk. Take the time to make it good.
  • 4. Consider post shoot creative editing possibilities.
  • 5. Epic presentation makes epic images.

For lots of inspiring images on this note check out 1x.com. It’s one of the reasons I started thinking about this so much. I’ll also close with a few of my own pieces. Opinions may differ on whether these make the epic mark, but epic is part presentation too and all these made it to the level of being printed as canvas wall portraits which dramatically adds to their impact in person. These are some of my favorites from 2009.

Finally, lets hear your epic ideas or some links to epic images, galleries or videos. Have fun… Gav

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