1. A Formula For Success – Beyond – Picture Composition
In this free online photography lessons, you will learn a formula that you can apply to any art or picture composition.
You probably don’t know about it, but it is one of the most important skills you can learn, and you will understand why you should let it become your second nature.
It makes perfect sense as I walk you through the formula step by step.
The theories behind the formula have also been backed up by neuroscience, and you can use it as a powerful tool for anything from art painting, photography, and filmmaking to marketing, commercials, and presentations.
The Formula For A Successful Composition
There’s something about the word formula that goes against the nature of an artist.
However, many great artists have a formula; Shakespeare had a formula, Michelangelo had a formula, Mozart had a formula.
Via a formula, the artist can put his work in a form which can be easily recognized by the viewer.
You can use this formula to pick out or make consistent and recognizable art or photographies.
Here’s an overview of the formula and we are going in depth with how to obtain each of the three points.
1. The stop effect (catching the viewer)
2. Imprisoning the viewer (keeping the viewer)
3. Make the viewer enjoy (caressing the viewer)
So in short, you’ll need:
1. A catcher to make the viewer stop
2. You need something attracting to make the viewer stay and look even more.
3. You need something which makes the viewer enjoy and which makes all the stopping and imprisoning worth it.
Let’s look at the whole formula and I’ll go in depth with each step afterward.
To make it easy, let’s call it C.K.C.
To catch the viewer and to make him or her stop, it’s not done with the content of the image, but with the contrast of the black and white patterns, and those few patterns attracting our attention are deeply related with primitive fear reactions: Diagonal, S curve, triangle, and the dominates figure.
To keep the viewers interest the picture must have a recognizable content that gives an emotional response.
The interest of the motive is corresponding with the level of the emotional appeal. There are three topics that correspond to this, because of the universal and emotional background: sex, sentiment, and mysticism. Especially if those topics are presented without raw or realistic, reference to time and place.
To make the viewer participate or enjoy, he or she needs to find an experience that enriches or improve it in the picture.
Movement and resistance are both essential complementary qualities. Give the feeling of being touched and in that way improve the experience of the motive.
Affirmative shapes that in their own abstract way repeat the motives’ ability to include the viewer.
Echos or repetitions with small variations of the same shape in different areas of the picture.
Note: Regarding the perception of a photograph or other kinds of art, much has been said about picture composition rules and the artist’s intentions and feelings, but in the end, what counts is the reaction of the human who watches the piece.
To be heard and felt, any picture or art piece must speak loud and clear, and when it catches our attention it must have something to say.
First Step. The Catching – Breakdown
Before we begin, feel the Picture composition effect. Try this experiment: Take a photo book or a magazine with many good pictures. Turn the pages quickly while you’re looking at the pictures. You will discover that even though you are going rapidly through the pages, some images will grab your attention even before you realized what’s in the picture. Sometimes you will discover that your brain will say “Hey, go two pages back and take a look” – do you know that feeling?
Why do some pictures call you like that and some simply don’t?
What kind of stimulation does any animal or human quickly respond to.?
Fear patterns – all of our senses are sharpening for the things we fear.
The first element to catch the viewers’ attention is the thing in our brain that command us to look before we even know what it is.
Initially, we are only dealing with the structure and the shaping and contrast of the dark and light surface those are the first things that will catch our attention even before we recognize the content of the image.
Four visual stimuli immediately call for a fear reaction:
A. The Diagonal shapes B. The S-curve C. The triangle D. The dominating figure
- Diagonal shapes:
One of the primitive sources that call of fear response,
Something that moves quickly in front of our eyes.
We know that it is moving swiftly and purposely and we need to know what it is.
Photo by MARK MAWSON
A secret sneaking movement, the prototype of danger like a tiger,
snake or any enemy that will sneak up on us and we need to be alert
- The triangle:
A sharp threat like the blade from a knife or a sharp tooth
- The dominating figure:
A compact shape that is blocking our way.
Note: These four patterns do not exclude each other, for example, a dominating figure like a pyramid holds the triangle and the triangle holds the diagonal shape.
Remember, these patterns do not have anything to do with the picture’s dominating theme or content.
The Climax Of The Image – Tips To Obtaining The First Step
So now we know that there are at least four ways to get the viewer’s attention and make him or her stop. If it’s possible to plan your image, a little sketch can prevent many errors. Then, on the shooting itself, be sure that the seeker contains elements with impact. When it’s time to select which pictures to use, then try to choose only pictures with one or more of the four catching compositions or figures which have the potential to become catching through photo editing.
Before Moving To The Next Step – What’s Photo Composition?
In the art of film and music, a climax is often something that is built up through a series of smaller climaxes. But in the art of picture composition, it works in the opposite direction – the peak must come first. The big moment has to be there in the fraction of a second. The impact is both the beginning and the culmination. In music terms, you can say that the image should have a stunning fortissimo from all the orchestra followed by more peaceful and thoughtful music which will fade out in silence.
After the biological shock has settled down, the viewer will come to an observation and assessment process, and that’s what the next step is all about.
Second Step – Imprisoning The Viewer
Now it’s time to start the show. You’ve got the viewers interest and now it’s time to keep the audience entertained.
The first phase was about catching your audience’s attention – now it’s time to keep them and have a look-see.
Many pictures have the impact but lack the potential of keeping your audience interest. To keep the attention the viewer must recognize some fundamentals and irresistible themes in the content of your image.
Therefore, the image must have a broad and emotional compelling theme as possible.
To do that you can use one or more of the three most significant themes:
In the nature of the themes, they can indeed be mixed with great results.
The sex theme is without a doubt the most direct and simple, but very very strong. Remember, besides our desire to flesh, sex has to do with the survival of our species.
The enjoyment comes with the idea of ourselves placed in the situation, where we will be admired in the same way as in the picture.
Is probably the most widespread theme. It’s expressed in many ways and still have a huge influence on our lives.
Sentimentality is often a meeting place for more humble subjects of noble feelings – it’s about soft values in our existence.
Those moments where laughter and tears seem to be in kind of a balance with each other is often categorized as romantic tendencies translated into feelings, shifting lights, shadows, and shapes.
Here are some ideas: children, animals, home, coziness, landscapes and the humble life and hardship.
Have a broad and ingested effect and take many forms. The deeds of the dark are still hunting us, but then the mystic gives us the opportunity to escape from the present cold in the land of the shadow.
Religion and the unknown is always a motive for interest. Despite our knowledge, still many things remain a mystery to us.
As a child we meet up with the mystic fairy tale, it can take a grotesque or crazy side of life; demons, witches, the fear, the supernatural, the macabre – and the biggest of all, the conclusive death.
Before Moving To The Next Step – The Universal Picture Composition
Pictures often disappear out of our memory as fast as yesterday’s news.
The three big themes as mentioned above must also be shaped so that they build on an interest that is permanent – therefore deadline must be eliminated.
The things that make a picture continually interesting is not an exact reproduction of reality of a random guy in a random light within a random background in a random city. The things which offer a permanent interest are avoiding the impression of time and place.
Try to have the image to speak for itself.
Instead of a picture of a firefighter fighting the fire, take a picture of the firefighter on a grey background and let the model (the firefighter) speak for himself. Try to take out time and place, the smartness and the up-to-dateness.
The Third And Last Step – Visual Flow Mastering Art Composition
According to the formula, we now have, first the attention of our audience through the impact of the picture. Secondly, we have rewarded our audience with an exciting motive and theme content.
You have reached a point where many pictures can bring their audience. A picture like that will get the attention, they are to a limit very interesting, but the audience will quickly move on with their lives.
But we don’t want that, we want them to want more, so now it’s about obtaining the audience engagement with the image.
Unless we only want temporary and random interest, we have to put our audience through an experience that enriches an improve the motive of the image.
You can do this with lines and geometrical groups that causes a movement and awareness in alignment with the impact and the content.
The viewer’s eyes will move along the contour, and we must honor our audience with an experience,
What happens when you look at a picture, your eyes and your mind is never quite at ease when it’s actively viewing through the image.
- Only the blank page will leave your mind empty
- If you look at a diagonal line on a page, your mind and eyes will have a short play
- If you have a line that goes up and down, you will play a little longer
- But when you have a more complex line your eyes will follow that and have and more exciting journey through your picture
The thing is to have content that confirms and develops when you look at it.
Seek to find things that enrich the viewer’s level of experience in your picture, to have movement and resistant reaffirmed shapes and echo of forms in your image.
First phase: The catching stop effect.
The first thing that calls upon our attention is not the content of the image but the black and white pattern – the impact.
The four compositions which attract our attention are shapes which are near related to fear reaction: Diagonal shapes, S curves, the sharp triangle and the dominating figure.
Second phase: Keeping the viewer’s attention. The motive is corresponding to the level of the emotional appeal, three themes have that universal power: Sex, sentimentality, and mystic. Especially those without a realistic connection to time and place.
Third face: Caressing, engagement, and enjoyment.
Your audience needs to experience the image as something that enriches an improve the content.
Movement and resistant are essential elements — Noticeable qualities, confirming form and echo through the experience of the motive.
Let me know what you think of all this in the comments below.
I would love to hear your take on this.
Is this something you can use?
Why or why not?
Have a nice day.