A friend recently asked me to help him design a photography shoot, concentrating on composition.
I had just been practicing composition, so it was the perfect opportunity to play around and apply some new ideas.
Before we talk more about his photo shoot, let’s take this opportunity to chat about some really cool art shtuff: borders, focal areas, contrast, and “Commanding the observer’s attention,” as Jack Hamm states.
So, some quick thoughts…
First, the shape of the border establishes the potential mood of the composition. Square and circular borders lend themselves to potential moods different from rectangular borders, and even asymmetrical borders.
Second, by blocking in light, you create focal areas that direct the observer’s attention.
Third, high contrast commands more attention than low contrast.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
First, I established a personal challenge, “Show me 12 boundaries with a focal area.” Keeping it simple, simple, simple…
So I did some rectangles and some squares and some triangles. Notice that your eye naturally gravitates towards wherever I blocked the light in. This is in essence “Commanding the observer’s attention.”
Then I tried circles and diamonds, and just stuff…
I quickly grew bored, however, and asked myself, “What if the border itself was an object?” Thus I gave birth to some wicked logos, continuing to play around and keep focal areas and contrast in mind.
Then it was time to attack my friend’s composition project.
We hardcore negotiated on a contract, including sizing and deadlines, and settled on $2 per final drawing. (Jee-wiz, the things you do for friends!) 😉
He presented me with a pretty clear description of what he wanted and I responded with a sketch. He gave me feedback and again I responded with sketches until we came to a place that was nearest his vision.
In brief, the description was for a woman in a Victorian dress walking through the woods in morning light.
(Just ignore the box shaped woman, lol, this was my attempt to reaaaallly simplify things).
Notice how I’m trying to contain the dark figure of the woman within the rays of the morning light, establishing deep contrast.
…until eventually I was making fewer changes. This was fun because I could communicate a lot of information through simple figure and shape outlines and the general use of contrast and value.
After we decided on an appropriate thumbnail I was able to sit down and render a piece that was a bit more appealing.
In no was was the final piece perfect, and – always the self critic – I find many faults within it, but to my joy it helped my friend better envision a photo shoot he was planning, which was going to involve several employees, equipment, and a model.
By having a sketch on hand, it gave him a reference to help him prepare, and it gave me, well, $4… a step closer to my dream of earning a living as an artist.
I can’t wait to work with more people 🙂 Who’s next?