Last week I spoke about positive and negative spaces in digital photography. To compliment that article I am going to go further into subject placement in your photos to get the ideal composition.
To start with, one of the things that detract from a beautiful digital picture is distraction. I see it all the time. A vase on the table in the background that had nothing to do with the message the photographer is conveying. Or perhaps something sticking out the top of something that ends up being irrelevant and a visual nuisance.
To avoid this I would like to draw to your attention the importance of story telling in photography. In each individual photo you take, when you are capturing a situation, what you are really doing in photography is telling a story. A big, majestic landscape is the photographers way of saying “see how this scene creates feeling of tranquility and calm”. Another picture might show you the adrenalin of a race and another might show you the depth of emotion at a birthday party.
Now what makes these pictures work so well is that every single thing, or object, in the photo has ideal and relevant placement in relation to the story you are telling in the photo. A relevantly placed object can completely increase the nature and feeling of the story. Just as equally powerful, an irrelevant object can ruin or down–play the intensity of emotion in your images and they won’t be as powerful. And don’t be fooled by thinking the space around the subject doesn’t matter just because its space and not an object.
Take this next example:
Copyright by Petr Kovar
I understand what the photographer is trying to do but the Moon is distracting. Where does the photographer want us to look? Is it a shot of the moon with birds? Or is it a shot of birds with the moon? I’m not sure. You see how one simple additional subject can detract from the essence of the photograph? As a consequence it looses a lot.
Since we are using birds, an example of an additional subject that enhances the feeling and story of a photograph is this next one.
This photo works okay because the chimney and the white bird to the left make sense for each other to be there in the same photo. They are linked and we understand that. We can understand that perhaps the chimney is the birds dwelling place and has relevancy in the bird’s life. It makes sense.
Always remember that no matter how big or how small, other objects will really make or break your photo. And the size doesn’t matter, as you have seen in these two examples. Its not about the size of something in the picture, it’s about relevance.