Welcome to (The Occasional) Photo Tip of the Day! Please also visit my main site jeffwignall.com. Text and photographs Copyright 2016 Jeff Wignall.

“The best way out is always through.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Organize Visual Elements

You'd never know it to look at the jungle that is my writing office, but when it comes to composing photos, I am very devoted to organization. In fact, I spend the largest part of my time finding vantage points and angles of view that allow me to create the most organized image design possible. I suppose this comes from the fact that I grew up with a mother who saw the precise placement of a lamp on a table as an important artistic challenge. In other words, I inherited my design obsession.

In the photo here, for example, I was fascinated by the intense artistic design that went into a simple lifeguard station (it's in Fort Lauderdale, Florida) and I wanted to let the building speak for itself. I was really taken with the cool concrete spirals of the low seawall and the combination of straight and slanted lines in hut itself. I spent about an hour walking around this tiny building and up and down a hill across the street looking for just the right angle to show off the elegance of the design in the simplest possible way. I also wanted to include the hard line of the sea in the design, as well as the ship that was anchored offshore.

Finding just the right composition for scenes like this is almost always a matter of trial and error and of paring down the number of visual elements. I always find its best to shoot a few informal frames when I first come upon a subject and then analyze the shot and see what it is that I can improve upon or what I feel is missing from the design. I then slowly refine the shot (thank God for the LCD!), moving closer or farther away (optically or by foot), finding higher or lower vantage points and experimenting with different subject placements. Sometimes the images come to me quickly, but other times its a frustrating battle of wits between me and the subject (and sometimes the subject wins and I walk away frustrated).

Above all, minimize, organize and keep refining the image. You'll know when you've found the best shot.

No comments: