As Westerners we were brought up to read from left to right. As a result, that’s the way we perceive, from left to right; that’s our comfort zone.
Humans rely on on the perception of the environment that surrounds them, and we as photographers can manage what the viewer perceives and processes when looking at the information we lay out to him in the form of a photograph.
While it’s always nice to keep the viewer in his or her comfort zone, sometimes it’s also good to take them out of that zone of contentment. How you ask? By composing your photos so the viewer has to go move from right to left instead of left to right.
In the above photo, I wanted to keep that tranquility, that repose created by the young cold grazing with his new mother. That’s the comfort zone I created by composing so the viewer moved down the fence line from left to right. Has I wanted to take the viewer out of his comfort zone, I would have positioned myself so that the viewer would have to move from right to left since I used the fence as a vehicle to move the viewer around the frame.
Take a look at the image now that I’ve flopped it in Photoshop. I certainly don’t condone doing this after the fact, it’s merely a way to show the power we have as photographers to control how the viewer perceives and processes our photos.
So, the next time your out and about with your camera, find a location and subject matter that you can compose either from left to right or right to left and see the amazing difference for yourself.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal starting October 21st. Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.
I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage. In April of 2016, in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours, I’ll be leading a group to the coastal cities of North and Central Viet Nam. You’ll see and take pictures of subject matter you would only see in magazines like National Geographic.
Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.