Designing Photographs

How do you design a photograph? Isn’t that what composition is all about? Well, yes, it can be. However, as David Hay explains, there is a lot more to it than that

Composition is mainly about arranging the most important elements of a photograph in the correct places within the frame. To design a photograph, it helps to have an idea how it will look before you start. You decide on the balance of empty space to subject matter. The shape and the size of the frame should also be considered as images in a letterbox frame that require a different arrangement of focal points than, for example, square format images.

In Japan, formal gardens are often just a few rocks, with raked gravel between them. The empty space in the garden is just as important as the subject. There is a Japanese word for this space – ‘ma’. It describes the void or space between objects. In traditional Japanese houses, wooden doors can be slid open or closed to alter the size and the proportions of rooms. These same concepts can be used in photo design to alter the size of the subject in relation to the surroundings and adjust the proportions of the frame surrounding them.

Despite Tokyo being one of the most densely populated areas on earth, the inhabitants have brought their own pieces of landscape...

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About Author

David Hay

I took up photography at the age of eleven and have been passionate about it ever since. As a retired biologist I still marvel at the beauty of the natural world and try and capture the colours and forms of natural things around me.

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