Compositional elements are those little pieces in your photograph that make all of the difference in the world. Composition is how your frame your photograph, what you include and exclude, how you arrange the pieces of your photograph, the shapes in your photograph, how you crop your photograph, etc. Some examples of compositional elements are leading lines, triangles, circles, balance and, frames within frames. Over the next few months, we are going to define and explore some of these compositional elements one by one.
CIRCLES: Our eyes are drawn to circles. Our faces are roughly circular; our eyes are roughly circular; the sun and moon are circles. If there is a circle in a photograph, often our eyes will travel to that circle first, especially if it is a bright circle, like the sun or the face of a clock. This is a very powerful concept to understand because it can help you move your viewer's eye through your photograph or it can distract them from your intended subject. This is also why it is so important to keep the eye of your subject in focus, if your subject has an eye! This is true for people, dogs, cats, insects, spiders, birds, etc.
Let's do a little exercise. Pay attention to where your eye goes first in the following photographs.
Where did your eyes travel? What did you see first? Where did your eyes go next? These are important questions to ask yourself when you are creating your photographs. If you practice it enough, you end up doing it subconsciously. It is like muscle memory.
Kyle and I both can play the piano, though Kyle still does where I have not played in years. Back in high school, I played all the time. When I memorized pieces of music, I did it by muscle memory. I knew exactly how far the distance was between each chord for the song. As long as I started out right, my hands remembered where to go. The same is true for athletes. That is why basketball players practice the same shots over and over again, so that their muscles will remember how to make that shot.
This holds true in photography as well. The more we practice, the easier it gets. As always, some people will get one technique very easily but will struggle with something else. We all learn at our own pace and have our own strengths. That is another reason to practice everything, so that you can improve your weak areas and perfect your strong areas.
Try looking for circles and making them the subject of your photographs. Try using them to create movement in your photographs. Try some before and afters, like the one below, where you leave the clock in and then take it out. How does that chance the photograph?
|Clock on the Organ|
|No More Clock|