Occasionally I will take stock of what my photography is looking like, how is it adapting and what crutch have I recently adopted. I hate using crutches in photography but that is a topic for another time. In a recent self appraisal of my photos, I noticed that I tend to prefer two photography extremes, the busy and the simple. Here is what I noticed.
The picture above is an excellent example of what I consider a "busy" photography. This scene captured my attention because of the relatively simple foreground and the busy background. There is plenty to look at, from the actor dressed as the statue of liberty, to the Jonny Cash dressed man to the far right. The buss and cars traveling down the street and the symmetry of the two churches helps anchor the entire shot.
These busy photographs gives the viewer plenty to look at and removes the pressure of holding a viewers attention with a single element. The challenge is that many different elements need to come together in order to make it an interesting shot. Remove one or two of the elements above and the shot falls flat.
Below is one of my favorite early pictures. I took it years ago in Paris using my old Nikon D300. I once printed it very large (3 foot by 5 foot roughly) and hung it in my office. When I moved I tossed the large print and went with a smaller one. After all these years it still hangs in front of my desk.
Again I love the fact that there is so much to look at. Taking a step back we have some great shapes, some wonderful light and interesting internal architecture. Stepping in closer, we have people enjoying art. Different cultures, clothing and gestures. Every time I look at it I see some other detail that I had not noticed before.
I have gone back to this very spot and took a ton of images. Literally I must have captured about fifty from this very vantage point. None of them are any good. Sure the architecture is the same, the lighting was still good and the shapes were all there but the people were different. It was either too busy or too empty.
In short, looking at a busy scene as a potential photograph can be very rewarding and just as frustrating. When it does work, it works beautifully.