Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting beyond the rules of composition

I have occasionally posted about image composition on this site.  Why is composition so important?  Because it is about making pictures that work harmoniously with the way the human brain processes visual information.  Photographers, artists, designers, psychologists, neurologists, and others have written so much on this subject their books fill cases.

The best pictures use composition to its maximum advantage.  The picture that works for a viewer does not overwhelm.  We don't fight it when we enter it. The image speaks in a clear voice. The best photographers intuitively compose their images well upon capture, and then continue the process when they edit.

Scott Kelby recently spoke on the subject of composition.  The one-hour video of his presentation is here.  He boiled down photographic composition to five things in five quick minutes:

1. Rule of thirds
2. Leading lines
3. Fill the frame
4. Patterns
5. Framing

With these points covered and out of the way, Kelby spent the rest of the hour talking about what's even more important than this check list: Getting the shot in the first place. 

His point is simple.  Getting the right shot is hard work.  It's a struggle, It takes time. You have to work the scene. Your emotional response is part of the process. 

Rules and formulas are a good first step.  But who wants to be satisfied with the formulaic?  The only way to get beyond it is to work at it, make mistakes, discard junk, edit brutally.  And take lots of pictures.  But most importanly, have something to say.

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