Playing with Shapes
Start looking at everyday objects and bring out their inherent graphical quality through playful shapes.
Just like lines, shapes too determine how the eyes move within, and through the image. Not only objects, but even human faces can be defined with a shape. In design, shape is one of the most basic visual elements. The trick of photographing great graphical images lies in identifying these shapes in the first place.
Look Beyond the Subject
Our brain labels objects immediately when it sees them. The moment you enter a garden, your brain has already denoted objects around you with labels like ‘flower’, ‘tree’, ‘green’ and so on. While we would be helpless without this labelling, it actually works against the photographer. This is because once the brain has identified an object as a beach, window or door, we don’t look beyond it. We end up dismissing it without noticing the curve of the petal or the shoreline, the rectangles and squares of a window or even the repeating circles formed by multiple pans in the kitchen. All of these are potential subjects for making graphical images. Turning off this labelling is not easy. You will have to consciously make an effortto look beyond what is in front of you. So, instead of seeing just people, bottles, plates, houses, try to visualise these things as circles, oval, triangles and rectangle shapes.
Zoom in to Move Closer
One of the best ways to pay attention to just the shape of any subject is by zooming in to it. Whenever you shoot a close-up, you see only a portion of the subject. An extreme close-up of a shape magnifies its size. This will also lend an abstract look to your image.
Focus on One Shape
Multiple shapes in a single frame can be visually chaotic. However, if you really want a combination to work, make sure that there is one dominant shape that leads the viewer across the image. For instance, in a frame where a vase and a few cans are placed against the window, the dominant shape could either be the rectangular window, the circular cans, or the triangular vase. To decide which object should dominate, compare its size, weight and proportion to other objects.
This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Better Photography.