The Art of Compositional Storytelling in Photography (TACSP #3)

The Art of Compositional Storytelling in Photography (TACSP #3)

Photography is the art of composition in storytelling.

House On Fire” by Araz Jakalian

House on Fire, Utah

The Storyline

How does the viewer’s attention travel within the photograph?

Analysis of House on Fire, Utah

1. The story begins with the subject that occupies the largest area in this photograph, the wall. The lines in the rock pull our attention downward like a gravity,  to the lower right intersection of the rule-of-thirds. In this area, the small window grabs our attention because it’s highly contrasted against the orange walls. This serves as the initial anchor point. Although the other windows/doors at (3) also have strong contrasts, they are located off-center from the story line and do not command as much attention at this stage.

2. Next, our attention is again directed towards the large wall but this time going upward. We examine the overall lines and patterns and …

3. … eventually find the two dark patches at (3). They are symmetrically balanced with (1)

4. After some overall examination, our attention finally goes to (4) and to the end of the story.

The Composition

The compositional elements of this photograph are well placed and create a strong composition. The large rock occupies 2/3 of the frame and is the easiest object to see and acts like a gravitational pull to draw our attention to point (1). There are no distracting elements in the photograph; no subject or compositional elements are superfluous.

Conclusion

The story line and compositional elements are in harmony within this photograph. The composition guides the viewer in a simple manner and helps to emphasize the unique character of this landscape. The panoramic ratio of the frame also fits very well with the subject.

 

Do you agree with my analysis of this photograph or is your interpretation different? Let me know what you think in the comment section.

If you want an analysis of your photograph, please send me a jpg image of about 800px on the longest edge by email to info@ephotosociety.com I cannot promise to analyze every photograph that is submitted. Priority will be given to those photographs that are aligned with the goals and priorities of the website.

 

“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” Ansel Adams

The Art of Compositional Storytelling in Photography (TACSP #2)

Photography is the art of composition in storytelling.

Mesquite Dunes” by Charlie Shugart

Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley

The Story Line

How does the viewer’s attention travel within the photograph?

Analysis of Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley

1. The story begins with the largest and most contrasted area in photograph. The sand dune closest to the viewer covers about 2/3 of the whole photograph and acts as a gravitational pull for our attention. It’s a great location to begin the story because it places the initial emphasis nearby and doesn’t reveal the full grandeur of the landscape quite yet. The directional shapes on both sides of this sand dune (see the ovals in 1) combined with…

2. …with the very strong directional line present at the top of the dune effortlessly  lead our eyes to a new location far in the distance

3. The contrast between the mountain range and the sky reveals the magnitude of the landscape and gives the viewer the first sense of depth

4. The last part of the story is an area with little contrast and shows the extent of the landscape between the viewer’s current location (on top of the dune) and the mountain range in the distance. It’s a naturally end to the story.

During a second reading, the viewer spends more time examining the smaller and finer elements. For example, the patterns of fine detail in the sand in areas 1, 2 and 4, the intersections between the mountains and the sky, between areas 3 and 4, and between areas 1 and 4.

The choice of processing the photograph in black & white relates very well, symbolically, with the photographs dual character of a beautiful but harsh landscape. In the end a satisfying story line.

The Composition

The composition of this photograph is strong. The compositional elements are well placed within the frame and guide the viewer in clear steps. The clarity of the composition also allows a fluid “reading” of the story. For example, the viewer’s attention glides effortlessly from 1 to 2 to 3 and then to 4. The black & white character of the photograph also helps in this regard. By eliminating colour from the image, the compositional elements already present in the photograph are enhanced thus allowing an easier understanding of the story. With no distracting elements confusing the viewer, every element is well placed.

Conclusion

This photograph successfully marries the compositional elements with the story line. The composition is well-aligned and provides momentum to the story line; which helps to emphasize the characteristics of the landscape and ultimately creates an emotional response from the viewer.

 

Do you agree with my analysis of this story or is your interpretation different? Let me know what you think in the comment section.

If you want an analysis of your photograph, please send me a jpg image of about 800px on the longest edge by email to info@ephotosociety.com I cannot promise to analyze every photograph that is submitted. Priority will be given to those photographs that are aligned with the goals and priorities of the website.

 

“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” Ansel Adams

 

The Art of Compositional Storytelling in Photography (TACSP #1)

Photography is the art of composition in storytelling.

“Final Approach” by Araz Jakalian
Canon 1Ds mkIII | EF 300mm f2.8L USM + 1.4x | 1/3200 sec | f6.3 | ISO 400

 

Analysis Of The Storyline

1. The story begins with the eagle. It clearly stands-out from the rest of the elements because of its size and contrast. It’s also i) the sharpest element in the photograph; ii) has the most saturated colours; and iii) the highest amount of detail. When first looking at the photograph, our eyes gravitate to this area before proceeding to read the other elements of the composition. The location of the eagle in the photo is well balanced and follows the rule of thirds (see yellow lines and circles).

2. Our attention then glides to the animal’s face and onto its eye in particular. Humans have a natural tendency to focus on eyes, either human or animal.

3. The direction of flight, the posture of the head and the eagle’s line of sight all point our attention to something in the distance.

4. Our attention reaches the edge of the frame with no resolution or purpose. However, at this position there’s a suggestive line that travels to the left. This line acts as the perceived horizon and is loosely aligned with the rule of thirds. The slight downward tilt of this horizon leads our attention to the other edge of the frame and to yet another seemingly dead-end.

5. Like a child swinging between monkey bars, we grab-onto yet another suggestive line with a downward tilt but going to the right. This line ends with no options for continuation. The storyline is finished.

6. At this point, with no clear guidance from the elements of the composition, the viewer is left with a sense of unresolved feelings and forced to return to the beginning of the story to see if more information is available in order to resolve the story during a second “reading”.

Analysis Of The Composition

The compositional elements are relatively well placed within the frame. The open space in front of the eagle adds a dynamic feel. The viewer is lead to the expectation of a good story. But once the photograph is “read”, the story feels incomplete. It’s not clear what the eagle is doing. Is it hunting for a rodent or simply attempting to land? The title is descriptive but doesn’t add any useful information to help deduce the story. The composition does not really help in telling the story and hence does not improve the photograph to any real extent.

Conclusion

The main attraction of this photograph, and perhaps the only thing keeping it interesting, is the eagle itself. The viewer’s attention is drawn to i) the beauty of the creature’s flying form; and ii) the vast amount of rich detail that can be seen in its feathers. This photograph then becomes more of a documentary photograph rather than a storytelling one and therefore does not provoke an emotional response from the viewer.

 

Do you agree with my analysis of this story or is your interpretation different? Let me know what you think in the comment section.

“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” Ansel Adams


Sign up to Mailing List


  • Twitter is currently flying the fail whale
  • Categories