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How Analyzing The Harry Potter Movies Improved My Photography


Over the years, I’ve had a number of different influences on my photography such as: education, traveling, and of course other artists. And…..The Harry Potter Movies. Seriously, here’s why.

It’s definitely not uncommon to use cinema as inspiration for your photography and by no means is Harry Potter the only or even remotely the primary source of inspiration for my photography. But there’s a valid reason why I believe these movies helped re-shape the structure of my brain through frequent watching and analyzing.

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I didn’t get into the Harry Potter phenomenon until later in life and it was in my late twenties /early thirties when I started getting into photography.

Photography has opened up a totally new area of my mind, perhaps a dormant area, a new door. The power of the mind to open up new ways of thinking and looking at reality is pretty amazing.

I honestly never did anything remotely artistic for much of my life and I primarily pursued left-brain-thinking subjects in school. For this reason, I never developed that necessary part of the brain that’s responsible for seeing the way photographers and artists see – the way I currently see things right now at this point in life. 

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So I spent practically my entire life believing that I was bad at art because I couldn’t draw, or paint, or do anything derived from some kind of a “natural” talent that could neatly fit into a category.

So back to the Harry Potter movies. I started watching these movies and as I got further into photography I noticed how my mind starting to change, how I started to see things differently in a more refined way.

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And the mind changes the more you repeat something. But the act of repetition is essential to learning as it actually re-wires the brain.

So how does all this relate to watching Harry Potter movies and improving your photography? It works the same way and it’s used to demonstrate how I helped to re-wire my brain to see the way I do through repeatedly analyzing these movies (and other movies too). 

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I used to watch these movies a lot. I tend to get into patterns of doing something and routines and so for a couple of years, I watched these movies frequently. But the reason I never got tired of them was that I felt like I noticed something new every time I watched it. It’s like a good comedy or a good book. You can re-watch or re-read it over and over again and you continue to find something new and interesting that stands out.

The way the scenes are constructed, the details of the set, the design, the wardrobe, the lighting, it’s quite meticulously constructed. I found myself fascinated with the fact that every time I watched The Sorcerer’s Stone, I took in each scene and tried to map out how the filmmakers created it. What went into it? What kind of planning was required to create this scene? How’s the lighting constructed?

I honestly think this part of the process, the analyzing of how scenes were constructed, helped to build this muscle of thinking. Actively thinking about and pondering over what all had to go into creating scenes seemed to actively develop that part of my mind. 

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I studied the frames of each scene and the lighting of the scenes. I didn’t do this with some kind of prescribed intent; I simply felt drawn to wanting to understand the construction and composition of these scenes. I felt naturally curious.

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And after repeatedly watching these movies over and over again, I internalized these kinds of details and started to apply this way of seeing to my own photography. Instinctively, I’d notice the direction of lighting and I trained my mind to help me to consider all the details of the scene, the same way you would if you are constructing a movie set.

Part of creating a good image is being aware of everything you fit into the scene and analyzing these films helped train me to do precisely that. So there you have it. Studying the Harry Potter films totally improved my photography, significantly.

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