The Main Thing

Contributed by Russ Muller, Russ Muller Photography

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? My guess is Steven Covey was not talking about photography when he said this because, truth be told, it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. So much automotive photography is centered around the traditional ¾ beauty shot, that the “main thing” seems to be capturing a car in one photo. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this, just like there’s nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream. Except sometimes vanilla seems, well, kind of plain. Let’s see if I can show you an example:


Here’s a ¾ shot of an Orbit Orange Pontiac GTO. It’s a nice enough photo, and you can see the sharp looking The Judge stripes as well as the Rallye wheels and The Judge stickers. It’s a perfectly good ¾ shot that gives you a look at the car. But there’s no real focal point. If we wanted to take a more dramatic photo, or tell a more interesting story of this car in a photo, what should we do? How about if we make the “main thing” the rear corner of the car, and make that The Judge sticker a little more noticeable? Let’s take a look:


Same car, same location, just composed a little differently. By making the rear corner the “main thing,” this photo tells a different story than the ¾ shot. The exhaust tips and rear valance are much more pronounced, and The Judge sticker now stands out a little more. By changing the angle of the photo slightly, we see a lot more concrete reflected in the chrome (as well as the rear wing), making the bumper more interesting. There’s no “Photoshop magic” here, just looking at the subject and deciding what the “main thing” was going to be in this photo.


Here’s one more, taken from a different angle. In this photo, The Judge sticker is now the “main thing.” Since there’s nothing else in focus in the foreground or background, the eye is drawn to the sticker. By using the rule of thirds (and I’ll talk about that at another time), The Judge is also placed at a spot in the photo that the eye is naturally drawn to, which helps to emphasize that it’s the “main thing” in this photo. The sticker is a lot more interesting in this photo than it is in the ¾ shot.

So there you have it. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Hmm…maybe Steven Covey was talking about photography…



Author: Tara

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