VOXTIP#7 ….COMPOSITION, INVITE THE VIEWER IN!

I was lucky enough to be able to see the amazing David Hockney Exhibition – ‘A Bigger Picture’ – at the Royal Academy in London, England. To say that I was blown away is an understatement – an astonishing artist who always excites me.

 

His images have great depth and one of the strategies he employs is to invite the viewer into his world – he pulls the viewer into the image by providing a ‘signpost’, a ‘path’, and a ‘destination’. The good news is – it works with certain types of photograph as well.

This is one of my favourite techniques but, I have to say, in all honesty – I’m still working towards proficiency although, even partial success can improve your images.

First, capture the viewers attention. Have something of interest in the foreground which catches the viewer’s eye. This is the ‘signpost‘. It usually (but not always) needs to be clear and sharply focussed.

Next, lead the viewer into the picture. Hockney often uses roads or paths, but lines of trees, furrows, hedges, fences, rivers – any lines, series of objects or perspective may prove effective. This is the ‘path’ and it needs to take the eye from the foreground towards the background.

Finally, provide a point of interest on which the viewer’s eye can come to rest. This is the ‘destination’ and it completes the image.

Ok, lets look at some examples with a critical eye:

In the first image there is a clear ‘signpost’ – in this case, an actual signpost – but there the ‘path’ is weak and the final ‘destination’ undefined. To me the image seems flat and although the eye is pulled in, the image is incomplete.

 

In each of the following four images the ‘path’ is quite clear however,  neither the ‘signpost’ nor the ‘destination’ is obvious. Thus, whilst there is a ‘flow’ into each image there is, in my opinion, a lack of structure and hence the images are less interesting.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next set of images illustrate clear ‘paths’ and identifiable ‘destinations’. The eye is again pulled in to the photos but the absence of  ’signposts’ weakens them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two images are of interest because as with the previous photos, they have ‘paths’ and ‘destinations’ but in these instances the ‘paths’ do not lead to the ‘destinations’. The eye is drawn in but away from the point of interest.

      In this single image the issue is lack of a clear ‘path’.. The plants in the foreground provide a ‘signpost and the building in the background provides a ‘destination’. The ‘path’ would normally pull the eye into the picture. Being kind, one might say that the edge of the lake acts as a ‘path’ – but it doesn’t work for me.

 

Where you have a ‘signpost’ and a ‘path’ but no ‘destination’, I find the images kinda just hang – as though someone has torn out the last few pages of a book you’ve been reading. Your eye is drawn into the picture but you’re left feeling there should be more. These next two images illustrate this point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, we’ve looked at several images in which one or more of the 3 proposed components is missing. I’ve expressed my feelings about them although, I still believe each image is enhanced by partial application of the technique and that the eye is pulled into the picture. However, lets finish this session with some images where all three elements are present.

A good story has depth as does a good photograph. Together the three components can create an interesting, 3-dimensional explorative world for the viewer rather than a flat, 2-dimensional passive experience.

Take the viewer on your journey and remember – you are the creator, be creative……..

Don’t forget to post your photos, comments and questions on VOXTIPS WINDOW:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/voxtipswindow

“I wish you good shooting.”

Next Friday we’ll be looking at ‘Composition, The Magic Three’.

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