Thoughts Related to Composition

The following is an extract from a critique I left with this post. It’s repeated here because I’m not sure how many are following my suggestion to read every comment  – where many things that maybe I should have said in a lesson, but didn’t, are “revealed” for the first time. 😉

The extract’s message is that when you attempt creative techniques,  you should be bold. Half way measures often appear to be mis-steaks mistakes. You don’t want viewers to look at your image and think that you made a careless error. 🙁

These observations were prompted by the middle image of the referenced post. As a general rule with all images – not just motion or other creative types – the photographer should endeavor to make his/her intentions obvious & clear otherwise viewers may think – “mistake“. Common examples include –

1) A horizon should be either perfectly horizontal or totally “out of whack”. Being off a little bit says “mistake”.
2) If part of a person’s body is to be cut off by the frame, make it a big chunk. At least a hand if not more & not just a finger. The top of the head down to nearly the eyebrows and not just a “scalping”. Etc.
3) Make certain that the viewer knows that you meant to do “whatever” and that it wasn’t a careless mistake. Being “just a little bit off” doesn’t accomplish your mission.
4) And a repeat of something mentioned before, the guidelines for good composition (of which 1 & 2 are but examples), aren’t “waived” just because you’ve decided to “go creative” with motion or whatever in making your image.

0 thoughts on “Thoughts Related to Composition”

  1. Travis,
    Your guess is probably on the mark on both counts – accenting the eyes by moving them from the center. Here’s a “top 10” item that mentions 10 ways to make creative portraits. Several, especially #9, fit what you ask.
    The Afghan Girl, top National Geographic cover of all time, is a cropped head – and what eyes! (almost exactly 1/3 down from the top if you’re a “rule” of thirds person).
    And then there’s Dorthea Lange’s Migrant Mother which is totally conventional with the mother, but chops off the children.
    All about style.

  2. Ed, Quick question that’s been bothering me for a long time. Why, in so many portrait shots, casual ‘head’ shots, etc. does the photographer cut off the top of someone’s head? I see it too often, especially in adverts for it to be a mistake. I’m thinking it’s to accent the eyes – move them from the ‘center’ of the image. Just curious.

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