Ian Plant • Sideways Shooting

Straightforward thinking is fairly common these days. So is straightforward photography. The best things in life, however, as well as the best photographs, often come from an unexpected direction. Ian Plant has the story

If you truly want to excel as an artist, you need to learn how to think sideways instead of straight on. But what do I mean by thinking “sideways”? Let me start by way of analogy, with a classic example of sideways comedy, which goes something like this: a skeleton walks into a bar and says, “barman, give me a pint of beer and a mop”. Give it a moment, you will get it. All right, maybe it is not the funniest joke in the world, but hopefully it gets my point across: sometimes it is best not to hit people head on, but come at them from an oblique angle rather than taking the obvious approach, looking instead for something unanticipated.

Sideways shooting requires being open-minded to new approaches, a curious nature, and a willingness to go the extra mile. Above all, do not just point your camera at the most obvious scene or subject: not only does this represent artistic laziness, but the obvious scene likely has been shot over and over again by other photographers. When working a location, start thinking of ways to move past the conspicuous, to that which is unseen by most others.

Part of what sideways shooting is getting at is the process of artistic abstraction, which is learning to ...

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About Author


Ian Plant is a full time professional nature photographer, writer, and adventurer. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, books and calendars, and he is a frequent contributor to Popular Photography and Outdoor Photographer magazines, among others.

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