Writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said: "It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see." That sentence serves to define the crux of a good photographer. Good photographers don't just look. They take the time to see. Looking and seeing is comparable to hearing and listening. Most of us can hear at all a times. We listen selectively. Looking is a passive process while seeing is an active process. The three photos included in this blog post illustrate the result of seeing not just looking. Writing this on Memorial Day, I selected what I deemed appropriate to the day.
The photos illustrate three compositional approaches approaches taken when being shot: graphic lines, framing, and mirroring. Take a look at each one and come back to read the explanation.
The first photograph's graphic element and framing are intermixed. The girl's face is framed by three elements: the rose colored hairband, the neckline and shoulder straps of the dress and the out of focus hand and cell phone. The mirroring has two elements: 1) the cell phone camera image and 2) the color harmony of the headband with the red elements in the facial makeup.
The second photograph's graphic element is the widow panes. neatly divided squares that set up positive space (where the flags are) and negative space (the empty space. The window molding sets up a frame for the flags, and the appearance of two flags is one mirroring the other, reinforcing the theme.
The third photograph has two strong graphic features. The verticality stripes of the flag and the horizontal lines of the flag poles. The framing is accomplished by the buildings on each side of the flags. The mirroring is evident in the vertical stripes in the flag and the vertical lines of the building in the background. There is also some color mirroring. The red reflection in a window in the lower right corner of the frame mirrors the read of the flag.
Compositional elements alone or in combination do not make a good photograph. Nor does trying to achieve those elements by contrivance. Good photographs start with a subject and a desire to render that subject to evoke an emotion. I'll address that in a future blog post.