Entrance at Dusk
Private Residence
Palo Alto, CA
Flegels Construction Company
In today’s Trick of the Trade post I reveal the secret of previews.

It is important for us preview our photographs of architecture and interior design because we need to be purposeful in our approach and carefully consider a host of details and how the relate to each other in the photograph to create images that elicit a visceral reaction in the viewer.

When I compose a photograph I carefully pre-visualize the composition before I set the camera in place. Once I position my camera I always preview the image using either the view screen on the back of the camera, or preferably on the screen of my computer. I do this because my immediate perception of the scene is very subjective and is colored by my emotional state, imagination, wants, needs and desires.

To create images that speak of the character and context of my subject and communicate the creators design concept I need to see the image from an objective point of view.  In the chemical era we used instant 4x5 Polaroids to review the composition and styling of our photographs. Today we have the 2x3 viewscreen on the back of the camera, that does have the ability to show an enlarged detail but the view of the overall image generally lacks the detail I need to see to make the best decisions about the composition of the image. The previews that are provided by viewing on a laptop screen are much better because they provide both a larger and better quality overall view of the image and provide a more flexible magnified view.

Please don’t think I am saying there is no place for the less formal approach of shooting freehand to capture the immediacy of the moment and the photographers first impressions of a scene. I will quite often break free of my tripod and computer and shoot images that are a pure expression of talent and represent my subconscious impressions or emotional reactions. My final images, those which are used in competitions and publication are almost always the result of careful consideration of multiple preliminary versions to which the artistic talents and experience of both my client and myself have been carefully and methodically applied to every detail of the image through the use of previews.