Photography course: Day 5

Before we started our first class for our photography course, the course coordinator had us fill out a survey which included questions about the main reason we decided to attend the course. Last week, the coordinator told us that a big portion of the class chose the usual answer of wanting to find out how to work a new camera and improve personal snapshots but a huge majority said they wanted to learn more about the art of photography. So with that introduction, the coordinator eased us on to the topic for that night, composition.

I have to admit I didn’t think the class would last the full one and half hours just talking about how to compose a photo but the time just flew by. The lecturer talked about elements in composition like lines, shapes, colour, size and perspective and how they could be used to improve a photo. He also mentioned how to be aware of how warm colours advance and catch a viewer’s attention first and contrasted it with how cool colours recede.

However, the best part of this lecture was when the instructor showed us examples of famous photos and asked us to think about why the composition works. The examples included David Moore’s Migrants arriving in Sydney and Sisters of Charity, Max Dupain’s The Sunbather, a work by Elliot Erwitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Behind the Gare St. Lazare and Hyeres, Arnold Newman’s portrait of Igor Stravinsky and finally Dorothy Lange’s Migrant Mother. The instructor drew our attention to the use of triangles in Migrants arriving in Sydney, The Sunbather and Igor Stravinsky’s portrait, the implied diagonal line in Sisters of Charity, spirals in Hyeres and the rule of thirds in Migrant Mother. As well, the instructor stressed how we should make use of the rules of good composition and then break them. To support the breaking the rules bit, he also showed us a couple of photos which broke the rules but still worked.

Before ending the class, the instructor explained that because most people read from left to right, we also have the tendency to look at a photo from left to right. With this in mind, he showed us how horizontally flipping the picture could affect a viewer’s perception.

Wrapping up, he said that we should study successful photographs and figure out why it worked. He recommended the books below before wrapping up one of the best lectures in the course so far.

Published in: on August 25, 2008 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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