In a world saturated with images, we want our work to stand out. It takes a lot of time, practice, and–sometimes–a little luck to get striking photographs. Here are 10 examples of striking photos we love from photographers working in the field today. We hope the images inspire you and the tips and tricks help you improve your portfolio.
Benjamin Von Wong:
“Exploring the multiple exposure function on my Nikon D700 unlocked some creative potential never before explored in this fiery shot of pyrotechnician Andrey DAS.”
See Von Wong’s full tutorial to find out how this striking image was achieved.
“There are pops of purple-gelled strobe between each car and through the windshield–snooted red LED in the tail lights and onto the ground too. I also added a few seconds of natural LED on the right trunk-lid edge and bumper, the reflection carefully placed to balance the moonlit reflections on the left side of the trunk. This is a stack of two 4-minute exposures–focused on ∞ for 8-minute star trails, and a 2-minute exposure focused on the tail lights for increased depth-of-field.”
See ‘Thunderbirds Are Go!’ and more striking light-painted work on Lost America.
Julia Kuzmenko McKim:
“I believe great photography starts with the photographer’s thorough understanding of the main principles of light behavior and the basics of visual arts such as composition, visual balance and color theory. Everything else is just regular tasks and problem solving at each photo shoot: getting great experienced models with flawless skin, the crew of highly skilled creative professionals and the equipment and accessories that will help the photographer to achieve the results he or she envisioned.”
A Profoto D4 2400 Air, a D4 2400 Air, 4 monolights, a beauty dish on the main light, a Westcott 40″ collapsible reflector, and color gels were used to create this portrait, along with the Canon 5D and 24-70mm. Be sure to check out McKim’s eBooks on beauty retouching!
“I took this photo just after a workshop that I lead in Jackson, Wyoming. It is one of my favorite photos of all time for multiple reasons. I had just learned that my wife received a job that she has wanted for a very long time, in Jackson, Wyoming. I captured the image after a wonderful and successful workshop that I lead there this year. My friends and I followed the storm as it moved north up the valley and waited from this viewpoint as it began to surround Mount Moran. It is a unique perspective of Moran–most people photograph the peak from Oxbow Bend at sunrise. This image has drama. My life and my best photography are all about drama. I can’t wait to get to Jackson for more of this type of photographic situation on a daily basis. This photo represents the culmination of a dream to live in a magical place that resonates with my soul. Work hard, dream big, and you never know what may happen.”
Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo:
“Glass, glass, glass, glass, glass, glass is one of the most important aspects of photography. It allows you to drop the ISO, thus giving you better image quality. You should get sharper and more colorful images from better glass. I always SHOOT RAW–you want to have control over the processing of your image along with ALL the information that the camera recorded. I personally do not crop my work. I find that capturing the full image your images will retain higher quality.”
This striking (and funny!) portrait of Perry Farrell was taken with a Nikon D2H and 17-55 f/2.8mm lens.
“Scale! Once you identify a subject to photograph, use your point-of-view and lens/focal length to create drama. The best way to achieve this is by placing the subject so that it stands apart from its background. When the subject is separated from its background then its actual size in the frame can become anything you want and allows you to compose the subject anywhere you like.”
“Don’t be afraid of highlights. Traditionally, we’re taught to keep our histograms well-balanced. This means that in a properly-exposed photo you should strive for no big loss of detail, whether that’s in highlights or shadows. It’s a good rule to live by in general, but there’s plenty of times when you can throw that out the window. I shoot lots of music photography and blown-out highlights (and lens flare for that matter) can sometimes make for the most dramatic photos.”
This striking photo of Snoop Lion in concert was taken with the Leica M9. Check out why Gurian thinks Leica might just be the perfect concert camera.
“Great landscape photography comes from knowledge of your subject and being able to convey a story through contrast.”
“There are concepts that occur repetitively in art to create a striking visual image. The 1st and most basic that goes into making a striking image is composition. With composition you can direct and control the leading lines in the image. Visual contrast and repetition/patterns are also important elements. You can see these illustrated here as the back light is slightly overexposed compared to the shadows which are, naturally, under-exposed. The light rays at the top are opposite the shadows on the bottom and also creates a repetitious, abstract pattern. That’s also illustrated in the windows on the top half of the image, which also create leading lines into our subject. They also create repetition as they are on both sides of the image, giving it symmetry. All those elements combined with a good connection with your subject all sum up to an image with impact.”
More of Cuarezma’s strikingly composed work can be found on his site.
“For this image of the Milky Way over the North Moulton Barn in Grand Teton National Park, I set up my tripod directly centered with the barn facing East. I leveled the tripod so I could use the rotating base of my RRS BH-55 to take a 16 image panorama from North to South to show the entire galaxy in one image. I shot this with a Nikon D700 and a Rokinon 24mm 1.4 lens. The exposure was ISO 3200, f/2.8, 20 seconds. I then stitched the images using Microsoft ICE.”
Want to get better at capturing striking night sky images? Check out Kingham’s guest post posts.