Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: "Composition Considerations" by Chris Orwig

I watched five clips that comprise a 20-minute chapter named "Composition Considerations" on It is part of a greater body of work called "Narrative Portraiture: Foundations of Portraiture" by Chris Orwig. The first clip, "Photo review: Composition examples," compares a few photographs that demonstrate the power of moving either the subject or the camera, despite using only a simple camera and lens. The second part, "Thinking about composition," emphasizes the concept of framing. It's not good to place the subject dead center or to have too much clutter within the frame. He recommends using the "rule of thirds" to create mystery, but within reason. The goal is to have the viewer look at the subject and then travel around the frame to look at everything else. "Composition and the story," the third installment, has the camera person actually mimicking the actions of a photographer as he considers leading lines, moves closer to the subject, tilts the camera, shifts the camera to the left and right, and drops down or raises the camera for more options to tell a story. Relaxing the subject is the focus of the fourth video, "Position and positioning your subject." By having the subject do anything with their hands/arms (holding them up, leaning against something, hiding behind the subject's back, etc.), the subject is able to breathe and look more natural. Even having the subject briefly look away can be effective. The last clip, "Photo review: Composition in print" explains how although a photo (as a stand alone) may not be great, it may still be compelling together with other photos in a portfolio.

If you're looking for hard and fast rules, these are not the videos for you. If you want a demonstration of how to react to a particular shooting environment and the decisions you may make, then perhaps this series would help. I suppose I'm looking for the former, but it was nice to see a good photographer walk through the thought process of shooting.

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