Everyone Has Their Own Unique Creative Vision

Written by stuestler on September 7th, 2009

The students in my class have given me permission to share their photos here, so I thought I’d show a great example of a concept I always emphasize about personal vision and creativity – that two people can stand in the same place and each make a very different photo of the same subject. Here are the photos along with my comments.









Courtney 01                                                                                        









Ruby 01

Two images of the same subject, different interpretations!

Both of you used selective depth-of-field effectively. (That is, they used a large aperture to isolate and emphasize a subject. I’ll be talking about this and other terms in the next few lessons, so if you don’t understand them right now, hold on).

Courtney is focusing on the text and design on the bench. The out-of-focus arm in the foreground causes the eye to seek something in-focus, leading us to the designs. (This is a phenomenon called “Visual Weight”, where your brain expects that something in-focus has more importance than an out-of focus area, and your eye is drawn there.)

Our eye continues to move up and back, drawn by the shape and color contrast of the violet wall against the cyan bench. The shape of the wall section leads our eyes down to the far arm of the bench, where the lines of the boards in the bench and the contrasting dark spaces in between them lead us back to the out-of-focus foreground, where the process repeats.

The color contrast and shape of the single vine on the wall reinforces the movement. This is of course a found element (I assume you didn’t rearrange their landscaping for the shot!) but that’s what looking and learning to see is all about.

The strong color and tonal contrast of he far bench arm and background could lead the eye out of the frame, but the strength of the other elements has more influence and actually causes the arm to lead our view back in from that side of the frame.

Ruby chose to emphasize the color contrast of the worn paint on the arm in the foreground by placing her focus there. The soft but still-understandable text and design on the bench, plus the lines of the boards and spaces, lead the eye up and back. As the focus continues to soften visual weight pulls our eye down and back to the front of the bench where the paint contrast is repeated and the increasing focus and the line of the front edge of the bench leads us back to the foreground arm.

By cropping in closer on the bench and eliminating the wall, she avoids the color contrast that would want to hold our eye in the background.

Two different interpretations of the same subject. Both work. Neither is right or wrong.

Both of you use the Rule of Thirds effectively in your composition (both here and in your other photos).

One of the most fundamental concepts of composition in art, going back at least to Greek writings on art and most likely understood instinctively even before that, Is the Rule Of Thirds. Here’s how it works:

If you draw lines dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, he important elements of the composition should lie on those lines, and the points of greatest interest should be placed where the lines intersect. This creates a dynamic balance that has more energy and movement than a completely centered composition, which tends to be more static, more restful and peaceful.

 Here’s what it would look like:

 Courtney_Ruby 3rds





As I mentioned in class last week about “rules”, this doesn’t need to be followed with absolute precision, and there are times when you may want to ignore it completely. Think of it as the “Suggested Guideline” of Thirds.  It works as a good general guideline, much of the time. But don’t get locked into it and be afraid to experiment with other compositions. Remember, it’s all about what you are trying to communicate with your image.

 Some cameras now actually have a display setting that will project this grid onto your LCD and/or viewfinder to help you see it. Even without this, seeing it becomes easy and intuitive with practice.

 One reason this placement of points of interest works is that it creates a diagonal within the frame for the eye. Lines are an important and probably the most common element in design, and diagonal lines are very powerful, creating movement to draw and guide our eyes.

Everyone found these insights extremely helpful as you learn to see your world in a much more creative way. We’ll be taking a look at more examples of the students’ work and what we’re talking about in class in coming posts.

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