How a photo stands out

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Today I will address a topic that has a lot of subjectivity, but also curiosity, that is, try to realize how there are photos that stand out versus others that are ‘just’ good photos.

And to support some of the ‘rules’ that I will describe, and that empirically are considered important to highlight the composition, I will use a photo I made more than 12 years ago, when I still photographed a lot by instinct, without much concern about the ‘rules’ that I will address next.  

The photo is called ‘Under storm’ and, as you can see, portrays two fishermen one evening when a storm approaches.  

 I want to draw attention that I put ‘rules’ in quotation marks because in photography there are no strict rules, only guidelines that can help improve, or not, the photo.

I chose this photo, not because I had the concern to use one that ‘fit’ the ‘rules’, but rather a photo that was awarded in a photo contest held by Camara de Cascais in 2009. If it was highlighted, not by me, but by a jury of a contest, then it’s worth studying it to try to understand the reasons for its prominence.

For this I will use some of the such empirical ‘rules’ that help us make great photos.

– Simplicity – It is said that the simpler the photo, the stronger it can be. In the case of the photo, it is simple because it has few relevant elements. Just the two fishermen, and a storm approaching with the sun tearing through the clouds. We don’t have any more distracting elements.  

– Balanced photo – We say that a photo is balanced when the relevant elements of the photo are not all ‘leaning’ to one side of the photo leaving the other side something empty. As we see in the division I did, we found that the left side is almost a mirror on the right side, that is, it is perfectly balanced. As I said, it is usually not necessary to follow this rigour in balance, but in this case the image provided this balanced framework.

– Rule of thirds – An old ‘rule’, which already comes from the times of painting, and which says that the relevant elements of the image should stand on the lines that form a grid with nine equal spaces. As we see above, the photo did not exactly obey what the ‘rule’ says but did not stay very far, with the two fishermen close to the vertical lines, and the Sun almost over the upper horizontal line. The ‘rules’, as I said, should only serve as guidance, which is what happens in this case.

– Perspective – Everyone knows that photography is a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional world.  It is up to the photographer to try to represent this three-dimensionality in the photo, and this is achieved through perspective. This perspective was created in the photo giving highlight to the size of the fishermen in the foreground (occupy almost the entire height of the photo) versus the Sun that is far away on the horizon. If we compare the size of a man versus the size of the Sun, there is no comparison, however in the photo men are ‘larger’ than the Sun. It is this perspective that creates the depth of the photo, its three-dimensionality.       

– Light/dark contrast – The use of contrast between the lightest and darkest zones of a photo has the effect of transmitting calmer when this contrast is smooth or, on the contrary, creating a tension environment when the contrast is more pronounced. In the case of the photo the high contrast between the bright sun tearing the clouds and the dark profiles, almost silhouettes, of fishermen create a climate of tension, providing those who want to document the approach of a storm.

– Capture the moment – Knowing how to wait for the right moment to register and thus enhance the story, is an essential element for a great photo. Associated with the moment should be concerned to ‘fit’ the frame of the photograph, using some of the orientations I mentioned above. In the photo under analysis, in addition to all aspects of framing that I have already talked about, there was concern to wait for the moment when the sun appeared in the squealing between the clouds and the horizon. It might not have appeared, and the clouds would cover to the horizon which, even following all the previous ‘rules’, without that moment of the sun shining, would never get a picture with the impact it has. Glad it appeared !!        

To recap, the ‘rules’ are not to follow to the letter and sometimes if we break them we even get spectacular photos, however it is always good to have them in our resource chest to help us make the photo that stands out.

My friends, these and many other guidelines for making great photos are covered in the Photography Workshops that Photofinders promotes. If you want to develop your knowledge in this area, go to the Photofinders website and point out that you are interested in our training actions to quickly put them into practice.   

I hope the post has been helpful and arouses your curiosity, and until the next.

Kisses and hugs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.