“This recognition, in real life, of a rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values is for me the essence of photography; composition should be a constant of preoccupation, being a simultaneous coalition—an organic coordination of visual elements.” —Henri Cartier-Bresson
Like a composer chooses notes, key, duration, and volume for their song. So do you choose the placement of elements within your image. If you take 5 photographers and put them in the exact same scene with the exact same things happening you will find 5 significantly different photographs. This happens because we are all unique filters of the world shaped by our past, our gifts, our curiosities, and our values.
Then there is the unlimited choices that come to you when you get to design your own image and not just interpret what is put in front of you.
The main gift of composition is it leads the viewer's eye to what you personally find important in the image, and hopefully you will take them on a unique journey to get there.
Compositional things to tinker with:
- Classic Composition "rules" for photography
- this calls it the Rules, but rules smulz, think of them more like suggestions. Mastering them will give you choices later and help you to understand how things can fit together but they are simply suggestions.
- “Rules are foolish, arbitrary, mindless things that raise you quickly to a level of acceptable mediocrity, then prevent you from progressing further.” —Bruce Barnbaum, from the book, The Art of Photography (So learn them. Then break them when to do so will advance your message.)
- Solid Composition article
- This happens when the angle of your camera or the distortion of your lens makes part of your subject look huge or tiny.
- Can make the subject look interesting or distorted. If you are choosing it as an effect to tell your story...cool if accidental and doesn't advance what you are trying to say try a different lens or angle.
- Design concepts by designers
- The photographers I often see make rocket-fueled progress are the ones that work as designers first. Or definitely those who understand the principles of good design.
- Elements to consider and play with to improve your compositions:
- focal point
- horizon line
- leading lines
- distracting elements
- balance / Scale
- depth of field
- negative space
- filled space
- visual tension
"Our eye must constantly measure, evaluate. We alter our perspective by a slight bending of the knees; we convey the chance meeting of lines by a simple shifting of our heads a thousandth of an inch… We compose almost at the same time we press the shutter, and in placing the camera closer or farther from the subject, we shape the details—taming or being tamed by them." —Henri Cartier-Bresson
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”
– Jack London
So how do we get better ideas?
Ideation is a muscle that can be built just like your biceps. And just like an athlete, some people will have better access to ideas than others. But no matter what ideas you come up with you will first need motivation to pursue them.
So lets unpack what motivates you? What do you value most?
Below is an exercise that you can do by printing out the PDF.
Or you can just write the answers on a piece of paper. Either way, you will want to and the answers to your portfolio. (which you can share with me by giving firstname.lastname@example.org access).
“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.”
– George Bernard Shaw
Photo Challenge of the Week
Create an image that mushes together your two most important values into one image.
Use leading lines in your photo draw our eye to your focal point.
Use the colour purple as a dominant colour in the image
--The above are to all be combined into one image.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
– Dr. Seuss
Developing Better Ideas
James Webb Young wrote a piece for advertisers called: A Technique for Producing Ideas. I think there is a great deal of merit to the 5 step method he described and I am going to expand on it here.
First gather the ingredients
- Things specific to your problem you wish to solve.
- Dig deep. Talk to people. Get to know all of the edges of the subject from your view and others.
- Who has done something successful before that you admire in this area?
- Gather unrelated things to your question but that you think are quite interesting none the less.
- Specific to your image you wish to create
- gather other visual references that you like about the thematic content.
- Gather examples of images with leading lines.
- Gather examples of purple things that you have or learn how to change colours of objects in photoshop.
Play with the ingredients
You have used your prefrontal cortex and really lined up and played with what you want to solve. Now go do something completely unrelated.
Go for a jog, a walk, take a nap, talk to friends, watch a movie.
Quite often and idea will percolate up at this time.
Birthing the idea
An intriguing idea will often bubble up. Now make plans on how to shoot this idea.
Troubleshoot in the real world
Try out your idea and figure out where it is clunky. Fix it or toss it for a better way to solve the problem.
Click Happy Plus | Week 2 | Inspiration and Composition
Updated on 2021-05-21T16:56:04+12:00, by .