From snapshots to great shots: using texture in photography

The reason that textures play an important role in photography is that they add depth, dimension and interest. An image without different textures in it could look flat and bland.

There’s no shortage of textures to photograph, as you will find, but if you can bear in mind the following points you may make your images stronger.

  • Some textures look amazing on their own, shot CLOSE UP, filling the frame. It may be obvious what it is, or it may take the viewer a few moments to work it out.
  • Also consider drawing back a little and giving the texture some CONTEXT, like the top left image, where the boat’s old rusted hull contrasts with the perfect blue sky and newer boats moored out at sea.
  • What MESSAGE does your texture convey?
    • Old, worn and well used?
    • Dilapidated, steeped in history, neglected?
    • Soft, luxurious and comforting?
    • Hard, cold and smooth to the touch?
  • CONTRAST  is key in making your textural photographs work and drawing the eye towards the intended subject:
    • Light vs dark
    • Old vs new
    • Smooth vs rough
    • Soft vs hard
    • Shiny vs matt
    • Contrast between colours
    • Contrast between foreground and background.
  • How LIGHT falls on the texture is critical. All of my images in the collage are lit with a diffused, flat and even light (In the shade or on a cloudy day). This works well to draw out the colours and patterns but is quite a safe and easy way to shoot. More dramatic lighting from the side would cause long shadows and give definition to the texture and back lighting could work well with some textures. This is where I will be concentrating my efforts to challenge myself a little more.
  • COMPOSITION: look for leading lines, repeating patterns and think about where you are placing the subject in the frame and how much of the space should it occupy.
  • Does your subject require a shallow DEPTH OF FIELD (large aperture = low f/number) or would a wide depth of field (small aperture = high f/number) bring out all the details of the texture better?
  • What ANGLE would best show off the texture and work within the overall image?

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