x y z axis photography

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It’s Day One of Portland Summer Photo Camp and the 30 aspiring photographers here with us are smiling. They just got some great news. There’s a revolutionary new way to learn photography that doesn’t involve camera manuals, books or guides.  It takes just three days to learn.  It’s a lot of fun.  And there’s a new place where you can sell your photos (for $50 to $400 each) when you use this fun new method.

Bonnie Caton, here. I’ll be your “Summer Camp spy” this week, leaking juicy tidbits from the back of the room on this new way of learning.  And with me are professional photographers Shelly Perry and Ben Reed.

Today, Ben gave us this fun and simple tip that makes your photos appear to “pop” off the page. It’s called the Z Factor.  Here’s how it works… In math, you probably learned a thing or two about plotting coordinates on a graph.  You had an X Axis and a Y Axis. And your graph probably looked like this…


Now, let’s say you’re walking through the park and you see a cool bench. So, you take a photo like this:


This photo is composed along the X Axis, which goes horizontally across the scene, and the Y Axis, which goes vertically across the scene, like so:


It looks kind of flat. But there’s actually a third axis fewer people know about.  It’s called the Z Axis. On a graph, the x, y, and z axis look like this…


See how this second photo, below, appears to have more “depth” than the first?


This photo makes good use of that third, lesser-known Z Axis, which goes from the front of your lens INTO the scene, giving your photo more depth:


To use the Z Axis to your advantage, change up your perspective until you find the perfect shot. Look for lines.  And, instead of setting up those lines to run along the X Axis or Y Axis, think about the Z Factor and move around the subject until the lines go from the front of your image to the back. It’s fun little tricks like this that make all the difference. If you missed us here in Portland this week, you missed a revolutionary new way to learn. 

Psychologist Stuart Brown says kids learn things faster than adults because they learn through “play.”  And that’s exactly what we did here in Portland.  We “played” with our cameras in order to get to know them. Sure, we spent a little time listening to presentations from Shelly and Ben.  But, most of the time, we were out and about in the city or back at the hotel reviewing our images. 

And ultimately, that’s what helped us learn so fast – this combination of fun, outside shooting, and review. Tomorrow, I’ll share some fun ways we’re learning to “work the shot” so that you, too, can have more fun while you shoot… and come away with better photos, too. Until then, may “Z Force” be with you!

The best place to start your journey with us is with our free newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a complimentary copy of our new report, Profit from Your Photos: A Quick-Start Guide.