26.07.2007 Category: Photography Composition
When we see a person looking at something, we often tend to look at the same direction. We are also used to the idea that people, animals and vehicles have a certain direction to where they are going. We assume that they move forward. This is a matter that should be taken into consideration in image composition. It's often distracting if there is a person, an animal or a vehicle on the edge of the photo that seems to be moving away from the photo and we can't see where to. It's also often distracting if there is a person on the edge of the photo who is looking away from the picture. This kind of composition should usually be avoided.
The same principle also often applies to stationary subjects that have a clear front and back side. A windmill is a good example of a stationary subject that often desires more space on the front side than on the back side.
Picture 1. The girl on the edge of the photo is looking to the right and therefore leads the viewer's eye towards the cathedral.
The look of the little girl in picture 1 focuses towards the inside of the photo towards the cathedral. The look of the little girl also leads the eye of the viewer towards the cathedral. If the little girl would look to the left, it would cause confusion in the viewer. The story of the photo wouldn't be complete but the viewer would be left missing the meaning of the look.
Picture 2. The girl sitting on the edge of the pool is looking to the right and also leads the viewer's eye towards the lighted building. The lighted building draws attention also because viewers usually look at the lightest parts of the photo first.
The girl sitting on the edge of the pool in picture 2 is looking to the right and therefore leads the viewer's eye towards the lighted building. Because we can see what the girl is looking at, the photo is balanced and it's easy for the viewer to identify with the situation and to look at the building. The lighted building also draws attention otherwise because the eye of the viewer usually focuses on the lightest parts of the picture first.
Picture 3. The swallowtail in the picture has been placed roughly according to the rule of thirds. The place has been selected so that there is more space in the front of the butterfly and in the apparent moving direction than behind the butterfly.
The swallowtail in picture 3 is placed roughly according to the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds suggests four different locations for the subject. In this case the front side and the apparent moving direction of the subject has been taken into consideration and therefore the subject is placed to the left side of the photo. There is plenty of space in the front of the butterfly and it doesn't look like it's going to fly away from the picture.