Most of the time when photographers talk about layers in a photo, they speaking about postprocessing in Photoshop. In this post, I am talking about visual and narrative depth in an image. To make a photo visually appealing, you need to create a sense of depth both physically as well as narratively.
Given that most cameras do not have stereo vision and so by default shoot a two-dimensional image, creating a sense of depth has always been an issue for photographers. We are always struggling how to translate depth into only two dimensions. So we have to suggest at depth. We do this in a very simple way.
This valley is certainly dramatic and the side of the valley leading up to the edge of the frame does give it some depth. But look at the next image...
Here by positioning my buddy David on a ledge looking over the valley makes the immenseness of the valley is much more apparent.
One of my favorite quotes about storytelling is by filmmaker Ken Burns. He says, “All storytelling is manipulation.” This quote bothers many people when they first read it. Maybe because they feel that if it’s true, they have been manipulated all their life, and no one like to feel they have been manipulated. However uncomfortable it is, the fact remains: it is true. Not only have we been manipulated, we have manipulated others as well. Haven’t we all sat around a campfire and listened to a storyteller lower their voice to almost a whisper, slow their pace, lean forward and pause with suspense? Then, all of a sudden they burst out with some revelation, and we all jump three feet in the air! We’ve been manipulated. Continue reading at the New York Institute of Photography →
“For Mercy has a human heart, Pity, a human face, And Love, the human form divine, And Peace, the human dress” William Blake
There is a principle of composition that is so strong it could be called a law. A law, not in the form of man made limitations, but in the sense of the undeniable , like the law of gravity. The kind of law that may very well be unbreakable. It is what I call, “the law of the the human figure.” It states that in composition the human form trumps all else for visual weight. Continue reading →