This is the sixth in my series I call “did it do it”. In each of my online classes I teach every month with the PPSOP, and also with my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet, I pass out this list of twelve suggestions to create stronger images and take your photos what I refer to as “up a notch”.
Since I’m not one for following rules, I submit these merely as guidelines. Guidelines that I’ve personally been following for most of my forty-six year career in Photography. The more of these guidelines you can include in your photos the better, as it’s worked for me so far. I call this one “did it have a center of interest”.
Since teaching my first workshop in 1984, I’ve looked at and critiqued hundreds of photographs, and a common thread that enviably runs through a vast majority is that they don’t have a center of interest. Something that the viewer can clearly identify with and be able to recognize without aimlessness wondering around the frame looking for something to stop and enjoy; or wonder just what it was that you were shooting.
I can already hear what you’re thinking!!! What about a landscape or an abstract? First of all, a landscape does have a center of interest. It’s the location that’s the subject and what’s interesting. If there’s mountains, then they are the center of interest. If there’s a large body of water, then that’s what the viewer will latch onto. If there’s nothing but “sea, land and air”, then it the way they act and react to one another; the way the photographer arranges them in his composition.
If you’re talking about an abstract, then it’s conceptual and anything the viewer wants can be the center of interest.
For the most part, a photo needs a center of interest to create strength, convey a thought, communicate an idea, make a statement, conjure up an emotion, or to be an anchor in the foreground to provide “layers of interest” and take the viewer to the horizon. It’s the glue that holds the entire composition together. Their can be more than one center of interest, as long as they say the same thing. This falls under one of the six principles of Gestalt I’ve written about for Adorama. This principle is called Similarity.
By the way, a center of interest does not have to be tangible. Intangible or an implied center of interest may come in the form of color, light, and contrast.
Some photographers tell you to “get to the point” by having your center of interest be seen right away. I agree, but with reservations. Sometimes I want the viewer to spend time looking at my photo, so I might pace it somewhere that will be discovered later rather than sooner. This leads me to talk about another of the Principles of Gestalt…figure-Ground where sometimes the center of interest is up for grabs.
The important thing to remember is to make sure your idea is a “Quick read”, as in my tractor photo above.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and I now have my 2013 workshop schedule posted at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. Read about my workshop in Napa Valley including a private wine tasting, and my Springtime in Tuscany workshop.
Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com