Designing for camera v. “real life”
How many times have you thought something looked great, shot it (or even just looked at it through a camera), and thought: What just happened? Why doesn't this look so good anymore?
In these moments, we're noticing the gap between the three-dimensional world we inhabit and the two-dimensional world of photography.
In real life we observe and interpret the world around us with greater depth and dimension than we are able to record or perceive from a photograph. Good lighting helps create a sense of depth but often I find it helpful to rework compositions specifically for a 3-D or 2-D destination. I try to create most things with both destinations in mind so that I only have to make slight modifications for a photograph but with many things, modifications must be made for camera.
The video below shows some excerpts of flower bouquets and their makers as they learn to compensate for this phenomenon. These examples happen to be of flowers but the principles apply to most situations.
- The camera tends to flatten things. You may need to exaggerate some dimension for the shot.
- In real life we have to make things look good from all angles, for a photograph we may have to adjust things to make it look it's best from only one angle.
- If you're shooting something that's rounder in real life, you may want to widen or spread out the subject before you shoot it. (Like the way we flatten the globe for a picture on a flat map.)
- The camera can also flatten and minimize the space you may have intentionally left in a composition. You may need to reconsider how you'll create the negative spaces so everything doesn't look squished together in the photo.