Secret #1 — I see the world as potential photographs

18 Oct

Secret #1 — I see the world as potential photographs.

Even at a young age, I showed an affinity for photography.  I loved taking pictures, and seemed to be one of those lucky few who had a “natural eye” for composition.  Even knowing nothing more than how to push the button on my old 110 film camera, I was able to create a few gems out of every few rolls.

As I got older and began to learn about the concepts of photography, I came to the conclusion that photo composition is a combination of spatial arrangement, and psychology.  Part of laying out a photo involves “where things look good”, and the other part of that involves knowing “why things look good there”.

I’ll illustrate, briefly, the second concept first.  Now, according to my college psychology courses, we humans are all hardwired to look for symmetry in mates, as it is an indicator of health which, in theory, should be passed on to our children, making them (eventually!) more valuable mates…and so it goes.  In other words, we are experts at recognizing symmetry.  That means we are also experts at determining when things are not proportioned equally.  Therefore, in my opinion, a lot of thought should be put into a decision to put the subject of a photo directly in the center.  It can certainly be done with excellent results, but I’d say most of the time, on its own (without other supporting factors), it’s not going to be the most effective composition.

Some of the strongest evidence of this comes from a commonly accepted practice of photography… “The Rule of Thirds”.  If you were to divide an image into 3 parts vertically and 3 parts horizontally, the points where the lines intersect is generally considered a good place for the subject of the photo to be placed.


Another concept that can any potential photographer can learn is to look for “leading lines” and patterns.  Patterns can be a lot of things…sometimes it’s a group of similar items bunched together, sometimes its repetitive patterns.  Whatever your pattern is, if you can work it into your photo you will generally improve the overall quality of the image.


Leading lines” are not a pattern, but rather, as the name implies, they are lines (diagonal lines, and “S” shaped lines) that lead the eye to the corners of the frame.

Electric - Brian Jarvis Band

If you’re new to photography, practice looking at the world as potential photographs.  Look for patterns, lines and symmetry.  If you can master the task, you’ll see improvement in your images.  Afterall, practice makes progress!

Happy shooting!

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