Do your photographs tell a great story? They say a pictures says a thousand words. Do your pictures have the right thousand words?
Have you ever gone and taken a bunch of photographs and then come home all excited to look at the great results, only to be disappointed in them? It is hard to see all the wonderful things you took pictures of in 3D and then come home and then see them all in 2D. That is the challenge we have as photographers.
That is what I hope to accomplish today in this storytelling series. Let’s see if maybe when we look through the viewfinder if we can maybe take the time and put some extra effort into our composition, if that would help make the photo a bit more exciting. Here are some tips that may help:
Light is the fundamental building block of any image. Light produces two kinds of contrast: color contrast and tonal contrast. Color is the hue that you see, like red, or green, or purple. Tone is another word for brightness, or how light or dark something is. Our brains are good at forming associations, and we associate colors and tones with particular feelings. These same associations appear in our spoken language. You’ve heard the expressions, “He was in a dark mood,” and “She was feeling blue.”
Blue connotes melancholy or tranquility. It’s also a color associated with stability and reliability. (What color are the logos of IBM, Microsoft, and Ford?) Red is the color of passion. Photographing an orange beach umbrella gives a stronger impression of a hot day than a purple one. Using dark tones creates a sense of gloom and foreboding. Light-toned images make us feel light-hearted and uplifted. Consider carefully whether the tones and colors in your image strengthen the story you want to tell or contradict it.
Color and tone also reveal lines in your image. Lines are the boundaries created where two contrasting colors or tones meet. A thin shape, like a road, the stem of a plant, or a tree branch, may also be perceived as a line in your photograph. The brain’s visual cortex is programmed at a fundamental level to follow lines.
This is a powerful tool for you as a photographer. You can guide your viewer’s eye toward what you consider important in the image by using something in the environment to point to it. Conversely, be careful not to inadvertently place lines so that they lead your viewer out of the image.
Just as with colors, our brains also make emotional associations with line orientation. Vertical lines in an image give an impression of power, strength and pride. Horizontal lines are stable and calm. Diagonal lines, on the other hand, are dynamic, and signify motion or change. Curved lines may convey a sense of melancholy or of hope, depending on the direction in which they curve.
Think carefully when composing your image so that you include colors, tones, and lines that reinforce the story you’re trying to tell. You’ll be much more likely to create a photograph that captures and communicates how you felt when you were observing the original scene.
*** Much of this blog was the work of Julie Waterhouse. Julie Waterhouse writes for Ultimate Photo Tips, which provides friendly education and encouragement for photo enthusiasts around the world, presented in a way that’s clear, organized, and easy to understand (ultimate-photo-tips.com). Whether you’re looking for the answer to a specific question, or just want to explore and learn.
Also some of this blog was written by Lanny Cottrell, Owner and publisher of 123Photogo. For further information about Lanny Cottrell, go to his website at http://www.123photogo.com. You can leave comments below.