Friday, July 27, 2007

Photojournalism (12): Reading pictures

By force of habit and training, in much the same way we read any piece of text, we look at pictures from left to right. Since our eyes tend to linger or to stop at the right side of the picture:

  1. most of the time, subjects should be placed at the right side of the frame; and
  2. elements at the left side of the frame can be used to lead the viewer’s eyes toward the subject.
In the picture below, for example, we’ve got a lonely guy on a rainy day, contemplating his so-called life. What did Swiss psychologist Paul Tourniér say about loneliness? “Loneliness is the central neurosis of our time.” As someone else said, “Loneliness is the most desperate of all English words.” Boy, this guy’s depression is contagious! Cheer up, man! There’s life after math!

Reading pictures; lead-in elements; photo by Atty. GalacioAnyway, since he was looking to the left, and there were only walls behind him, I placed him on the right side of the picture. I knew however that with such a set-up, there would be a lot of empty spaces on the left side. I waited for a while for something to happen. Then I saw these three students walking toward us. They were just the right lead-in element I needed! When they were just in the right spot, I took the shot.

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