Blog #47 Composition, Composition, & More Composition
Composition as it relates to photography is best described as a verb rather than a noun. It is not simply a description of what is in the image but rather how the photographer decided to arrange or place the objects within the frame. This is a deliberate process and one that we should all be paying particularly careful attention to.
For this week’s blog post, I will not be sharing comments on The Rule of Thirds or The Rule of Odds, or any other dos or do nots related to composition. I will, however, make reference to a far-from-exhaustive short list of purposeful attempts that a photographer may make in an effort to draw the view’s eye towards the subject within a given image. You can view that piece in Casual Photophile’s Tips And Techniques column here .
One very pleasing albeit often overlooked compositional technique is the use of visual rhythm. Rhythm is defined simply as a movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, or the like according to dictionary.com. The term is usually applied to music or dance but can also be useful to describe the repetitive compositional elements in a painting or photograph. Visual rhythm is not simply the lining up of all of your ducks in a row. Creating visual rhythm, much like a drum beat in a song, can be very simple and constant, ascending, descending, interrupted, or even complex. The subject used can be quite broad and, if executed well, almost any subject can work when visual rhythm is applied. This concept is executed successfully when the viewer's eye is lead through frame. If one were to track the viewer's eye it would touch on all of the areas in the frame and perhaps be directed towards the subject or bounce around the subjects or perhaps even visually walk around and around again, always staying within the frame. The role of the photographer can be said to escort the viewer (through the use of composition) through the frame like a proper gentleman (or lady, of course).
In my view, using visual rhythm is one of the more obscure and seldom exploited composition techniques within photography. The images shown here are my own and represent my attempts to illustrate this concept.
On your next photo shoot, aim for visual rhythm and compose your score with intention and gusto. Follow your own beat and draw your own visual signature.
The light is always right.