Photography – Proportions


Before you can become a master snapper, it’s important to get the basics right, Simon Thomas tells us how

Photographer: Lisa Thomas

Be ‘in it’ to ‘win it’

I’ve tapped my keyboard and cranked out a few techy based photo master classes in ABR in the past, but like the last issue’s lesson on composure, this one’s simple and more about what’s ‘in’ your photo than about the buttons you’ll need to press to capture the image.

Dead Centre, Dead Wrong

We’ve all seen a million photos where the rider is dead centre of the image, heading at speed straight to the camera and is the main subject of the photo.

Well, that’s great if you’re a pro photographer shooting a race bike on the track and getting paid big bucks by a manufacturer, but adventure-based images need a different approach.

Travel photography is, or should be, as much about the location and the setting and it should be about the rider.

After all, we all know what an R1200GSA or a Yamaha Super Ténéré looks like, right?

Let the landscape be the star

In the last class, I wrote about how a photo should tell a story, with a beginning a middle and an end. Of course, a dramatic stage also helps tell that story. Have a look at the image in this class.

Technically, it’s not an outstanding image, there’s grain and digital noise in the image, there’s not a lot of contrast in the shot, and the background is even out of focus, so why does it still work? Well, even with the dark and stormy conditions Lisa was dealing with, she paid attention to proportions.

The photo works because of how she chose to let the landscape overwhelm the rider. I’m actually just a small proportion of the actual image, but this tells a story, a story of riding through an impossibly vast, bleak but beautiful landscape.

That’s it! So, remember the next time you’re shooting yourself or even your mates on their bikes, pay more than a token nod to the landscape and let the backdrop be the star and not the bike. You’ll be impressed with the results, promise.


A dramatic backdrop with good composition will still create a great photo, even if it’s not super sharp and technically perfect. Have fun.