|Photo Tip & Assignment #19 – ELEMENTS OF DESIGN
The Tip & Assignment this month is about important elements that can help you improve your Composition, a topic covered on LSP’s Level 2 Digital Photography
Workshop. We asked professional photographer and LSP trainer Andrea Verganti to share his thoughts about it with us.”This photograph is part of a project called ‘Suburban Pandora.’ The title comes from the Greek myth of Pandora, who owned a small box containing all the evils in the world that, if opened, would cause (as you can easily imagine) severe and wide-ranging consequences…
In my project the myth is reversed and the ‘box’ is a suburban environment that constrains the people who live in it and that, if opened, can let beauty come through.
Whenever you embark on a project, you should consider what message you want to convey: what is it that you want to say through the pictures? What is it that you want to communicate to the viewers? As a consequence, all the (otherwise quite dry) technical aspects of photography will turn into the tools you can use to express yourself.
This applies to the use of shutter speed and aperture, for example, but it is also particularly relevant to composition, as framing the photograph in a specific way allows you to shape the environment or situation around you and to give it a particular interpretation.
Since my message was rather conceptual and not very tangible and I needed to give a certain slant to the photographs to let it come through, composition was key to the success of the project. I therefore had to pay great attention to the visual elements in the images.
Photography is a language, a visual language and as such, it is has an alphabet that is made up of visual elements
. Being able to recognise them will greatly improve your ability to communicate through images.
are very important such elements and in the picture (left), I have framed the photograph so as to have horizontal lines running through the frame, which creates the effect of flattening all the planes of the image onto its surface. This is meant to confer a static quality to the picture and, in this case, convey the feel of a restraining environment, as represented by the grey wall.
Conversely, converging lines
would create the visual effect of being able to go beyond the surface of the frame and lead the eye of the viewer into a space within the picture, thus making the photograph look more dynamic.
As the wall represents the oppressiveness of the environment, I have composed the picture so as for it to occupy the biggest area and to ‘compress’ the grass to the bottom of the frame. I have selected the yellow
flower to be the main subject in my picture, as it stands out and breaks vertically the rigid pattern of the lines of the bricks in the wall. Its role is therefore symbolic and key to the meaning of the photograph. In order to put an emphasis on it, I have chosen an angle of view that would allow me to see it frontally and I have placed it in the centre of the frame.
Since my message could be better conveyed through situations of contrast, I have used other important visual elements to highlight discordant aspects in the photograph. I have therefore juxtaposed the geometrical shapes
of the bricks with the more natural and organic structure of the yellow flower and the grass.
is also accentuated by colour, as the gloomy grey of the wall clashes with the vivid green of the grass. The white patch attenuates the dullness of the wall, while the yellow flower sticks out and catches the eye, since it is the only element that colour and it is cast against a neutral background.
Although more commonly associated with tactile perception, texture
is also a visual element photographers can use in their pictures. In my photograph, the rough and cracked surface of the wall conveys a sense of bleakness while contrasting with the freshness and smoothness of the grass.
It is important to understand that if you have a strong message, you can use the visual elements quite freely to get it through to the viewers: you can do whatever you want, basically, as long as you know what you are doing!”
Upload your ELEMENTS OF DESIGN (lines, texture, colour, shapes, form etc…) images to the Flickr Gallery: ASSIGNMENT #19 for a chance to win an Evening Workshop Voucher at LSP*. Deadline: 30/September/13
Photo and Text: Andrea Verganti