Used properly, crappy cameras can still capture historic moments. Consider using scale, points-of-reference, negative space, tilt-left and “Dutch” angle.
I’d just flown 800 miles to Arlington, Virginia, to share a cup of coffee with a potential customer. Sounds crazy, I know. Yet, if I land the project, I’ll support a cause I truly believe in, and the check could help feed me and my loved ones for a few extra months. That’s something worth traveling for.
After an exhausting plane ride, I dragged myself into my hotel room, flipped on the local news, and caught word about the grand opening of Washington DC’s MLK memorial. Pride and embarrassment hit me all at once. Pride, because Washington finally demonstrated that great activists are also worthy of memorial, alongside politicians and warriors. Embarrassment, because I had no idea that the grand opening was today, and I used to work for UF’s Institute of Black Culture. Oops. My bad.
Frankly, I just wanted go to sleep. Yet, history was happening, just one town over from my hotel. The anthropologist and MCDA ambassador in me simply had to go. It pained me, not having a decent camera on hand, and I had to use the crappy one on my beaten up BlackBerry Curve 8330. Yet, with good ole’ fashioned photography technique, I still managed to capture some halfway decent imagery. As a visual anthropologist, and one of MCDA’s old graphic designers, I want to share those techniques here:
Scale and points-of-reference. Note how MLK’s monument does not fill the frame here, as it might in the typical tourist’s photo. For visual anthropologists, capturing data is important, and I wanted to capture data illustrating the monument’s scale. Thus, I took this photo from eye-level, and included people, trees, and the heavens as points-of-reference.
Negative space. Note how most of this photo is sky, that is, empty or “negative” space. The use of negative space can force the viewer’s eye toward the subject. In this case, the monument’s expression.
Tilt-left and “Dutch” angle. Like the hypotenuse of a triangle, a photo’s diagonal angles allow more room than its vertical and horizontal angles. Thus, they’re good for capturing long-yet-narrow subjects, like lines of text.
As for the discussion portion. Where do all of you stand on the cultural relevance of the MLK memorial? Where do you stand on using your cell phone as a legit tool of visual anthropology? Of course, any other thoughts or comments are welcome, too.