As geeky as I am the technical aspects of photography generally make sense. Exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, etc. are all concepts I know enough to apply and understand enough to satisfy the scientist in me. But, as a wise photographer once said, the camera doesn’t make the picture – the photographer does.
Composition is my single biggest frustration – getting the picture to look interesting. And not just to me, but to other people as well. You know, it’s almost more important to me that people find my images interesting than that they actually like them. Interesting means the viewer will stop, look, take time to look some more, and then think about why the image has them standing there looking. All the technical jazz is important to make sure the viewer isn’t confused (“did he mean for that to be out of focus?”) and that the eye is moving through the image as I expect. But technique will only stop a viewer (hopefully), it won’t keep them standing there.
In my quest for a better understanding of composition I ran across a recommendation for a book. Wish I could remember the blog I read about the book on because I’d love to credit the blog’s owner but I can’t. What’s important to you, though, is I do remember the book recommended. Actually, I bought the book and am really excited about what it teaches. For anyone frustrated with their composing skills I urge you to get a copy of this book and read it.
Well, read it is just part of the benefit. The author takes a visual approach to the subject and shows why certain elements elicit specific responses. And how to use those elements to get responses, modify responses, build multiple responses. With really simple diagrams, too!
The book is Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang. Check it out.
If more details is your preference, get a copy of The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman. He does similar examples as Molly but with actual photographs, deconstructing them to show how design elements are used to compose the final image. I learn best with the “see one, do one, teach one” method so this really appeals to me.