I’m not going to go off on a rant here but….

There’s such a thing as adding too much value, offering too many insights, sharing too many facts, asking for too many opinions, inviting too many ….distractions into a venture.

One corollary: “Design by committee.”

Another: “Too many cooks spoil the soup/broth/chili/gumbo.”

But sometimes you don’t need a committee or others to clutter up a good design or to mar a meal. Sometimes, you can try to include too many ideas all on your own.

I meet Sean on the beach at San Simeon, and we chat about him selling his house and taking a trip up the coast as a way to figure out what he’s going to do next in his life. Is he going to move to New Mexico? What is he going to do about his computer business that is lucrative but that he’s not passionate about?

Like the topic hinted at in the title, Sean has a lot of ideas and possibilities, but he seems like a pretty easygoing guy and I believe he’s going to find a sensible and soulful way forward. He brings up touring Hearst Castle and I say we went on a tour the day before as well. He asks, “How much space do you really need? How much can you really use?”

After the conversations trails off, I ask to take his portrait.

I back away from the water and ask him to swing around toward me so the water is at his back.

I like the photo, love the colors, sense a genuine expression from him. I ask him to wait and we’ll get one more photo. In my head is the idea that, like the pelican rock photo from earlier in the day, if I can catch a wave crashing behind him, the scene will have a little more power.

Sean holds his pose. The waves oblige within a few seconds with a beautiful sweeping wave crashing behind him. I say thank you to Sean, wish him luck with his decisions and we part ways.

In reviewing the images, I notice two things: the first is that the shadow of the curling wave actually seems to pull attention away from Sean’s face. The idea of adding another element to an already competent photo may not pay off here. What do you think?

The second thing I notice is that Sean has the same expression, but does he really? Somehow in the second photo, I feel slightly less peace in his eyes, smile, and expression, so subtle as to not be discernible in a single part of his face. But I see a slight decline or change in his energy so that the first photo seems more authentic somehow. It’s invisible but I see it.

And finally, I notice that the jpegs I have posted, straight out of camera with the Ektachrome film recipe, also have the aspect ratio of 65:24 (which I discuss here), and which I set as part of the custom setting. I review the full raw file and find that the pano mode – while novel and a look I am enjoying experimenting with at the the moment – actually takes away from the scene.

The full scene includes the context of the large piece of driftwood rising up behind Sean. The full scene includes the sand, and sea debris. The full scene, an aspect ratio of 4:3, includes more context that show Sean more fully in a beach scene, rather than a cinematic close-up portrait.

I share the full image here as a reminder that adding a crashing wave, and adding a trendy or exciting crop, don’t necessarily add.

Less is more, in other words. In this case. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

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