The Viewer and Composition

Posted: May 21, 2016 in Uncategorized
Photographers that teach photo workshops will always include some kind of instruction about composing subjects in the frame. We have the rule of thirds, the golden rule, leading lines, light, depth, and other rules past down over the ages from painters to photographers.
When we show our photos to other photographers that know the rules, they try and analyze an image to see if it fits within the rules, and if not maybe throw out a few suggestions to help out a fellow photographer in making proper images.
When we show our photos to non-photographers they don’t know the rules, so they’re usually interested in the subject matter, and the reaction whether it be good or bad will depend on the connection the viewer has to the subject matter and not about any rules.
If you show a non-photographer an image that is an abstract of a subject they can’t identify, the non-photographers first remark is “what is it”. They need to identify something they can connect with.
Whereas a photographer viewing the same abstract image will generally appreciate it for the lines, textures, contrast, colors, design, patterns, depth, lighting, etc., and not worry about what the subject is.
Some photographer’s say “don’t worry about the rules, just compose based on your interpretation of how a subject should be composed using your own style”.
Like I said if you are showing your images only to non-photographers, I guess the rules don’t matter much as long as they can see a subject that they can connect with.
But if you are showing a photographer who lives by rules, your images my not be well received if you are breaking all the rules.
I think rules are important as they have worked for hundreds of years, so I tend to follow the rules.
Not that you shouldn’t break some rules now and then, but just understand where photographers and non-photographers are coming from when they make an opinion of your images.


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  1. edlva says:

    Mike, I must say how much I admire your work. Masterful! A macro lens is on my horizon.Elaine Lee

    Sent from my U.S. Cellular® Smartphone

  2. vedaeddy says:

    Right now I’m struggling with a photo that doesn’t follow the rule of thirds because I cropped it too closely in camera. (man, I wish I’d stop doing that) But other than that I love everything about it. I know my photographer friends will notice right away, but I gotta go with it the way it is. Did I mention I love it.

  3. Kathleen says:

    I am a non professional photographer with a healthy appetite for photography. Suddenly it is at my finger tips again, accompanied with the pros. What joy! I am so looking forward to new stuff.

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