Thursday, January 08, 2015

Visual Pathways to Better Photos

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I was recently hired for a writing gig that had me wordsmithing almost daily throughout the month of December; writing about photography, that is. More specifically, glamour photography. Once I completed the work, I thought, "Why stop now?"  My next ebook, Guerrilla Glamour 2, has been sitting half-baked half-finished on my computer for about six months and, as long as I'm on something of a writing-roll, I might as well keep rolling. So, so far, that's what I've been doing in this new year: Working on my next ebook.

I'm not sure how long it's going to take to finish it and I'm not going to make any predictions -- cuz I've made that mistake too often, i.e., forecasting a completion date I didn't meet -- but, hopefully, I'll get it done within a month or so. Perhaps a bit longer. It all depends on whether or not WADD kicks in or how badly it hits me. (Writer's Attention Deficit Disorder, that is.) Hey! Seriously! It's a real mental disease or something, WADD is. I know this for a fact. It flares up often enough in me. Too often!

So, anyway, I'm currently working on a chapter dealing with "visual pathways" and other elements of composition. It's a subject also covered in one of the articles I wrote as part of my recent writing gig.  I'm trying my best not to plagiarize myself using what I recently wrote for someone else, for my ebook, that is.  Is it even possible to plagiarize one's own words? Regardless, I don't want my recent writing client to think I was paid by them to write something fresh for their use, only to re-use it, or something a bit too close it, for my own nefarious purposes. I think that's called having integrity... or something. More people should try it these days, having work-related integrity I mean, because I seem to see less of it than I once did. But that's another  subject, one that goes way beyond photography and not one I'm blogging about today. So, forget I even mentioned it.

Visual pathways, if you're not familiar with the term, are elements of composition which serve one or both of a couple of purposes in a photo's composition: 1) as a tour guide for viewers' eyes, guiding them through an image or leading their eyes to the main subject of an image and/or 2) as a way of enhancing the allure of a picture's main subject. In both cases, the writing gig and my ebook, the main subject is a glamour, nude, or tease model but the same techniques can be used for most any portrait and beyond. Photographically beyond, that is.  You know like... I don't know... landscape photography.

Beyond being a tour guide leading viewers' eyes around a photo in ways a photographer wants to lead them, or somehow enhancing a photo, what exactly are these visual pathways you speak of, Jimmy?

Glad you asked. I'll give you one such element of many photos that are often used as tour guides or visual pathways: Lines.

Yep. Simple lines. Sometimes, actual lines. Other times, imaginary lines. Often enough, both real and imaginary lines working in harmony to produce visual pathways and, as a result, more effective images.  What specific kinds of actual and/or imaginary lines are you talking about, Jimmy?

Again, glad you asked.  I'm talking about all kinds of lines: Level lines, vertical lines, diagonal lines, and curvy lines. Curvy lines, as you know, are often present in glamour and tease images because, of course, curves are a big part of many models' allure; especially beautiful, sexy, seductive models.  But glam pics aren't simply about curvy-ness, line-wise or otherwise, because other sorts of lines. lines of a non-curvy nature, can also add much to your glamour photos.

Straight lines of the horizontal, vertical, and, especially, a diagonal type can be powerful lines in your compositional approaches. In my glamour photography, I never met a line I didn't like. And when lines are present (beyond the naturally curvy lines of a model, that is) I'm gonna try to use lines to enhance, visually enhance, my photos as well as leading my viewers' eyes around my images in ways I choose and hope to lead them. Otherwise, the way the human brain works, viewers' eyes will just wander rather aimlessly around a photo and who wants aimless viewers? Not me.

While you may be thinking that particularly alluring models don't need any special help to call further attention to themselves in photos, I say, "Au contraire!"

I don't often say things in French but, when I do, I'm doing so for added emphasis so, in this case, you know I'm totally disagreeing with the notion that no further attention-gathering techniques are ever needed when shooting beautiful, sexy, seductive models. It's true they might not be absolutely needed in some ways but, even when they're not-so-needed,  they still add value and I'm all about adding value to my  images whenever I can and however I can. You should be that way too!

My suggestion is this: Whenever you can utilize real lines in a shooting environment to point the way to your glam model or lead your viewers' eyes -- this is a glamour photography blog, after all, so I'm specifically talking about glam models right now -- most any kind of line, straight or curved, can be effectively used for that purpose. Also, whenever you direct your model to create lines, especially curvy lines and/or diagonal lines, with her body-pose and more (More? Yeah, like with wardrobe and that stuff) it's probably and generally a good idea to do so depending, of course, on your specific creative goals for the photos.

The model at the top is Dahlia. There's a lot of lines used as visual pathways in that image.  Some of them are naturally occurring in the shooting environment and some of them are being created by the model but, either way, they're all helping to "tour guide" your eyes, your viewing eyes, throughout that image.

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