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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 19 of 50

#1 Reason Photographs Fail

 

Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 19 of 50

#1 Reason Photographs Fail

 

Lesson Info

#1 Reason Photographs Fail

Over the years, I've reviewed tens of thousands of images, and the conclusion I have come to is this. The number one reason a photograph fails to get its message across is because there's far too much information cluttering the image space. Think about a sketch artist. He starts with a blank canvas. Then he adds visual elements, line and shape, color, pattern and texture to build the visual story and create an image that gets to the essence of his subject. Sketching oil painting, watercolors, cartoon drawings. They're all arts of addition. You start with nothing a blank canvas, and you add to it until you get the final image. As a photographer, however, you don't have the luxury of starting with a blank canvas, because when you look through your viewfinder, it's already filled with visual elements. But there's no structure. Everything is random. Your role, then, as the photographer, is to bring order to that chaos. And to do that, you start by identifying first the elements in the scen...

e that add to your story and then those that distract now to show you what I mean. Take a look through my viewfinder, this old winches affectionately known locally as Red Crane. It's a steel replacement of a hand operated wouldn't winch. It was first used a load blocks of Portland Stone on the waiting ships before it was moved here in the early 20th century and used to lower fishermen and their boats down to the sea. Although it's still in use, the ravages of weather and its proximity to Portland's Wild Sea has left it rattled and haggard. That's the story I want to tell now. In this composition, there's too much information distracting you, the viewer from my intended story. For one thing, the crane is partially obscured by the big rock. There's a dad and two kids on the left, a guy fishing over on the right, next to a woman sunbathing and tourists wandering around in the background, which are all distractions. And then we have the boat in the lighthouse, which is dominating the space. All of the visual elements. I've just identified a bits of information that they're taking your attention away from the narrative of my story, and now that I've identified them, I have to simplify the composition by getting rid of them effectively. I have to remove them from the picture space. So here's my new composition. I've moved closer to the crane, so it fills the frame. I've changed with vertical format, which crops out the distracting people along with the boat, and I've positioned the foreground struck so it hides the lighthouse by removing all the distractions I've made my story unambiguous. Removing distracting visual elements is, I think, the most important part of composition on all of the tools you need to do it right here in the camera. And in the next lesson, I show you what they are and how to use them. No.

Class Description

WARNING: THIS COURSE CONTAINS ARTISTIC NUDITY

AFTER THIS CLASS YOU’LL BE ABLE TO:

  • Compose a shot consistently and effectively
  • Create artistic, powerful images quickly
  • Gain confidence in building narrative
  • Identify what stories you’re drawn to photograph
  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative shots
  • Trust your instincts when approaching a subject

ABOUT CHRIS' CLASS:

CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course. This is the second class in the series.

Today, everybody has a camera, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a photographer. Chris Weston will show you how to do all the other stuff – how to “see” an image, tap into your creativity, and compose a photograph that makes the subject look as good in print as it does in real life.

This class isn’t about cameras, it’s about you – the photographer. It will break free your creative mind, get you thinking about narrative rather than object, and show you how to apply simple artistic skills that turn that next click into a powerful photograph.

Learn how to approach photography like a pro and start creating great pictures straight away. With in-the-field lessons, case studies and powerful tips and techniques, you’ll quickly unleash your creativity and gain confidence in expressing yourself through your camera.

WHO THIS CLASS IS FOR:

  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer who wants to hone their artistic skills

ABOUT YOUR INSTRUCTOR:

Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.

Reviews

Silvia Garcia
 

Excellent ! Will see it many times to digest all the messages here. Important info on composition theory. Very well explained. Go to the essence of photography. Thanks, Chris !

a Creativelive Student
 

Absolute must to watch! Perhaps few times, as is packed with all the information you need to know to make your photography to the next level. I think it is the most comprehensive class on composition. Fantastic!

Glenda
 

fabulous course no matter how advanced you are.. LEarned so much from it. I'll watch it again as it contains so much.