Monday, June 08, 2009

Round Pegs in Square Holes

When it comes to pretty girl photography, composition is about artfully, pleasingly, and eye-catchingly putting round pegs in square holes. Alright, I'll admit it's more like putting curvy things in rectangular spaces but, as an analogy, that's not as instantly recognizable as "round pegs in square holes" or "square pegs in round holes" or whatever.

I went with the round pegs/square holes thing for this update's title cuz I prefer being an "easy read" kind of blog writer. Website Grader gave me high marks for writing at an elementary/primary school level. Who knew writing like a 6th grader was a good thing?

Sometimes, I wonder if many photographers have difficulty chewing gum and walking at the same time. I often see images that are wonderfully lit but poorly composed. How does that happen?

Obviously, many shooters take much care and exhibit mad skills when lighting but, when it comes to framing the shot, the model is simply placed smack-dab in the center of the viewfinder and snapped. That's not always a bad thing if enough space is left so the image can later be cropped in an interesting way. But then I see so many images where its pretty damn clear that the model was framed in a pedestrian way and nothing changed when the image was later cropped.

I'm not saying that every image requires unique, less-often-seen, or dramatic composition. But often, small nods to eye-catching, aesthetically-pleasing, compositional techniques yields generally better results.

Photos don't provide views like human eyes do. With our eyes, we don't see things with precise and definable borders. If you do, you might consider visiting an ophthalmologist.

Photos have borders. The subjects of photographic images are constrained within those borders. That's why composition is so important. That's why its important for you to get creative when thinking how you're going to place those curvy things within the confines of rectangular spaces.

I used to think you can't teach composition. People were either born with an eye for it or they weren't. I've changed my mind on that. Certainly, there are many people who seem to have a natural eye for composition. But for those who don't automatically and instinctively frame up a shot in a compositionally interesting way, learning the rules of composition are as important as learning to paint with light. Often, the two are completely entwined.

While lighting is important, as is posing, emotion, attitude, art direction, makeup and hair, and more, don't neglect the power of composition and it's artful uses. I guarantee effective use of composition, even if its done in subtle and marginally noticeable ways, will have a positive impact on your photographs.

The pretty girl at the top is Sofia from a couple of years ago, shot against a blank wall in a house in Las Vegas. Photoflex 5' Octo for the main, couple of kickers, either side for highlights. Used a blank wall as a BG cuz the art guys wanted to do cut-outs and paste on some other BG plate.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I found that another website also published an article about composition today, albeit in a slightly more convoluted style. I read your entry from beginning to end, while I only managed to digest maybe half of the other piece before losing patience. So please keep up your entertaining 6th grade work! :-))