You need pulling power!

If you suddenly find yourself turned into a photo, the most important thing in your life will be wanting to be seen! You want people to do more than give you a quick glance or the drive-by scroll as the mouse never stops. In short, you need to have pulling power.

All the other popular photos will tell you that there are many ways to get people to check you out just a little bit longer. But you need to figure you what you’ve got and flaunt your stuff!

DT6C8071 (1)

Someone forget to tell this welcoming committee that they were supposed to be friendly … or at least look like it.

If you were the photo above, for example, you have a little game. A first glance would confirm you are a wildlife shot – an excellent place to start. You would start by immediately showing off that fine-looking elk as the focus of the image. There is some anticipation in the air since the elk is tense, focused and has that snotty, nose-in-the-air look. Not bad.

That first look around would also give you the opportunity to show the natural setting at the edge of the forest with a mixture of live and dead trees. No evidence of a zoo in this shot. Pretty good.

Now if that was all there was, you might be in danger of losing your viewer far too soon. But … there’s more. You must quickly draw attention to a partially obscured elk in the background that adds a little interest and more pulling power. Elk often travel with friends so to have one in the background would be expected. But some of the elk’s outline is missing which is odd and when your viewer looks higher, you have a surprise – elk eyes peeking over some branches. As a natural reflex your viewer probably goes back to the eyes of the front elk and notices they are both staring right back. Now you have the viewer where you want – wandering around the photo.

That secondary focus or attraction is key to enticing your viewer around the photo and making them stay. It’s a key part of pulling power. If enough people are intrigued, you get to hang around with the popular photos. I wonder where that is?

Latest Comments

  1. dda53 says:

    So, after seeing the second elk in the background I started looking everywhere else. I noticed a bears face on the left half way up behind the pine tree. Guess my imagination is running wild or is it I’m being pulled in for more. Nice catch.


  2. Mary says:

    Never noticed, great way to get someone to look just once more – aw what a gift!


  3. vanbraman says:

    Nice picture of the Elk. Did you see my post on Audubon? I finally found my print of the Trumpeter Swan.


  4. melodylowes says:

    Elk have a rather unfair advantage in the ‘pulling power’ category. They are just beautiful and sleek and rare enough to have more than their fair share. Cue squealing brakes and thudding pulses…


  5. Phil Lanoue says:

    Just once I would love to know exactly what’s going on in the mind of an animal when it’s staring at you like that.
    I have a good idea, but suppose we will never know for sure.
    Amazing animals in a beautiful setting.


  6. anotherday2paradise says:

    Good points, Lyle. Beautiful capture. 🙂


  7. Dick Trew says:

    I’m amazed at the setting–you have captured it so well. The muted colours, the significant depth-of-field, the contrasting shapes and textures all reward the viewer with more than a “shot” of an elk. The depth of the image is greatly enhanced by the presence of the second animal. (It’s almost like a diorama in its presentation of near and not-so-near.) Without first seeing #2 elk, I wondered at the framing, then a balance emerged I hadn’t first seen, then enjoyed searching the entire image. Lyle, you have captured a very interactive and inviting view of the elk. There is so much more than facial attitude there–I really appreciate a more total experience as a result of your guiding words. While I had previously understood “pulling power” in agricultural and mechanical settings, I now can see a photographic application. Thanks!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I enjoyed reading about your process of discovering the photo especially how the balance emerged for you. It was one of those photos that was initially interesting to me but grew on me more with time. Cropping took me quite a few tries before I settled on this one. I like using phrases from other realms and applying it to photography. I appreciate your comments and the insight you provided.


  8. whichwaynow101 says:

    I thought I was observant but I would never have seen the second elk eyes without your intriguing title and written content! Thank for the lesson.


  9. Honie Briggs says:

    I’ll tell you where that is…right here on this blog. I have many film shots of zoo animals from when our kids were young and we did things like go to the zoo. None of them compare to capturing wildlife in their natural habitat.


  10. Mike Powell says:

    Your concept of “pulling power” is a nice complement to the idea of “stopping power” that you explained in an earlier posting. A photo opportunity has to present itself in a way that will cause you to take advantage of it (stopping power) and once you have the photos, you have to present them in a way that draws in the viewer (pulling power). It takes a lot of power to be a photographer! Thanks for leading us through your photo. Although I saw the second elk, I failed to notice its head when I first looked at the image.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I appreciate you remembering my other musings on photography. I’ll have to see if there are any other power-related concepts I can build on. I think photography takes a lot of power and also gives a lot of power.


  11. Isabella Rose Photography says:

    I would never have noticed that second elk, Lyle, if you hadn’t pointed it out!! My eyes were focused entirely on the main animal in the fore front. A lesson for me in observational technique!!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      It’s fascinating how we can all look at a scene and yet see different things based on our focus, interest, experience and a whole bunch of factors. I suppose that’s why eye witnesses at a traffic accident can come away with such different perspectives.


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