How Watching Game of Thrones Can Make You a Better Photographer
Anyone who knows us, knows that we are really big Game of Thrones fans.
It is the only show we watch religiously, every week that it airs - mostly because we don't want anything spoiled for us. We even nerded out pretty hard when we went to see the Game of Thrones Live Experience in Philadelphia. Needless to say, we're pretty serious about our enjoyment of this particular piece of modern entertainment :)
While the show and it's characters pass through our minds from time to time, and we get into heated debates with friends and family about what we think certain things in the show mean, or are foreshadowing, we started to think about how watching the show can actually lend some value to becoming a better photographer.
5 Ways That Watching Game of Thrones Can Make Your Better at Photography
1). You find inspiration in things you enjoy.
Okay, this is a simple point, but powerful in its own right. If you enjoy Game of Thrones, it is easy to utilize it as a point of inspiration for your future work. One of the main appeals for us is the complexity of the storytelling - from the actual story being told with it's political intrigue, violence, moments of brevity, and just a really cool fantasy world - to all of the technical marvels on display like that scene with a CGI undead polar bear.
This inspiration can be used as mental fuel for our photography. There have been instances where we have been searching for new and interesting places to shoot photos, and the idea of a Game of Thrones themed styled shoot have come up while looking at environments around us that have some comparable qualities.
2). The cinematography is often a key character in the show.
While not every moment of Game of Thrones is perfectly done, there are so many scenes that are elevated simply by how the moments were captured. It is hard not to think about the final episode of season 6, which introduced us to "The Light of the Seven." The pacing and movement of the camera captured all of the necessary moments during this segment, all culminating in a dreadful explosion that changes the game in significant ways. In other times, the cinematography is far more still, focusing on individuals and their interactions with one another, or on a wider shot emphasizing the environment.
As professional photographers, there is a lot to learn from the filming of this show. On wedding days, we use a lot of different tools as a means to capturing the totality of the day - from small details like the wedding rings, to intimate moments shared between the couple, to family portraits, to wider shots of the ceremony and reception venues, and much more. We blend so many techniques and capture so many aspects of the day, and assemble a perfect online gallery showcasing the story of the day - not just a handful of images chosen "because they are cool."
3). The images provide a critical piece of context.
The end result of photography as an art form is having a tangible image that can be seen. Sometimes, as photographers, and even just plain old human beings, we can take for granted just how important our sense of sight really is when it comes to understanding and comprehending the world around us.
In Game of Thrones (the show), the moving images provide substantial context to the world of Westeros. It helps to bring to life the books, which only exist on a written page and require every individual to conjure up their own mental images of what certain characters and locations look-like - whereas the TV show brings these things to life before our eyes.
As a photographer, being able to provide context to someone's life as a result of taking their photos is essential. In the modern world, it is so simple to take photos on our phone cameras, but so many of these pictures go to waste, or are just taken without a care for the details. Being able to capture an intimate moment in the heat of a busy wedding day probably feels mighty similar to the photographers on set of The Battle of the Bastards needing to find those intricate moments in the midst of many people running around like they're at war.
4). The colors used are intentional. Many critical details are given away just by the color choices used. The actual difference between some locations, while super obvious, provides a nice simple example. Blue overlays bring colder tones into scenes in the North at Winterfell and beyond the wall. Meanwhile, warmer filters are used in King's Landing and Dorne, visibly showcasing that these are warmer locations. In other aspects, color choice is also important, such as with Cersei's change into black attire as she becomes a more sinister character.
These color decisions are critical to photography as well - in all aspects. While it is impossible to control everything, picking appropriate locations that suit the mood you are going for, having your couples/individuals select clothing that will compliment them and their environment, and so on are steps of the photographic process that are done before you even push the shutter button.
In post processing, color is still a fundamentally important piece of the puzzle, and one that can be refined to define your specific style. Through editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, the sky is really the limit with what can be done to a photograph. In much of our photography, our editing style is oriented towards creating a romantic and moody atmosphere - the result of which lends a certain look and feel to our images that help to set them apart from others out there.
5). The environments the show is filmed in are hand selected and real.
Out of everything the show has going for it, the selection of real-world locations is impressive; and allows for a real sense of immersion that can't be captured by just filming actors against a green screen all of the time. The real life filming locations, like Spain, Ireland, and Iceland, create serious intrigue to visit as well.
We felt this pretty substantially ourselves, as we had wanted to visit Iceland for quite a few years now, just never having the resources to go - until September 2017 when we went to visit, and got a real taste for this entirely different world and culture. While Game of Thrones wasn't the only reason we wanted to go, it certainly felt like a cherry on the top of a sundae to be able to visit some notable locations from the show. As photographers, the lure of Iceland was very real, because virtually anywhere we turned our cameras - the result was stunning and memorable.
Reeling things back in a little bit on this point, in day-to-day life as a photographer, the environments selected are still important. With most sessions, the best locations are those that represent our couples - often this is just a location that holds meaning to them, like a place they shared a first date.
There are a lot of reasons to enjoy Game of Thrones. It is hard for us to not have this mini-TV show obsession cross paths with our natural love for photography. Hopefully some of these thoughts on how watching Game of Thrones can make you a better photographer resonate with you, or at least inspire you to go take some pictures...or sit down and watch the show!
What's your favorite Game of Thrones filming location in Iceland? Let us know below!