I've had a lot of people influence how I take photos.
My grandfather, Leo Pavelle, was a photographer and photofinisher. I remember two pieces of advice he gave me. First, the picture should try to tell a story. If the story is missing then the image is weaker. Second, if you can frame an image inside the picture, it draws the view in.
From my parents I learned that there is more to visiting an area than going there. I remember the first time they went on a trip with the intention of making photos (their preference, make rather than take). They were able to capture not only a sense of being there, but the experience. The photos brought it alive.
The first photography classes I took were given by John Gregor (www.coldsnap.com
). He taught that it didn't matter what the subject matter was, the same rules of composition and attitude apply. It doesn't matter if you are taking a picture of a flower or a person, try to capture the personality of the subject.
Cynthia Foster Gillespie-Smith ran several workshops I participated in (see France, Spain and Mexico under the Travel section). From her I learned the cumulative effect of images. Where one photo might be nice, three can tell a more complete story or help explain the experience to others. She also stressed the importance of including people, especially when travelling, because the people make up the real character of a place. Cynthia would also assign projects or tasks on her workshops which teach or demonstrate different aspects of photography like the differences in light on a scene as the day passes, which made learning much more interesting, challenging and fun.
Those are just some of the people who have helped make me the photographer and person that I am.
Do you want to know what else I've learned?
Everyone is different. If you ask 20 people to take a photo of an object/scene/concept you will get 20 different, equally valid images.
Rules are there to help, not hinder. Feel free to break them at will.
Photography is meant to be fun. Play with an image or scene. Try something crazy. Try something sane. Try something standard. Try something that you'd normally never try. Have FUN!!
p.s. The image at the top is a self-portrait taken with a macro lens. The eye really is that reflective.