Why can people who have never studied art or photography take stunning photos and produce fabulous works of art? Don’t they have to study and memorize the principles of composition to produce great work? Well, of course not. After all, we don’t prefer pictures with an odd number of pieces because there’s a principle of composition that says so. There’s a rule of odds because instinctively we prefer odd numbers. To a degree, we are hard-wired to prefer certain arrangements of lines, shapes and arrangements of objects and over the course of time, we have learned what they are. We don’t know why we like odds more than evens or why we like diagonals more than straight and vertical lines or triangles more than circles. We just know that in general, people do. This gives us some objective criteria to use to explain why a picture works, but it’s never the rules that make a picture great; it’s the content – the idea, the story and the passion that goes into the picture. A perfect composition with nothing to say is never as good as a picture that tells a story.
This week’s featured artist is Gabrielle Swindlehurst. She most definitely has stories to tell. Her photos are rich in emotion and ideas. Take this photo. You can see the Rule of Thirds is used in situating the horizon and placing the subject. On the other hand, contrary to “the rules,” the subject is looking out of the frame, not into it. It seems to me, though, that this makes the picture more effective. This has an aura of expectation and reflection, of looking for what is not there. If I close my eyes and imagine the picture with her looking the other way, there’s a different emotional story – one of waiting and watching someone who is in sight, anticipation without reflection. I think this makes a richer emotional story, which is why the rules of composition should be a guide, not a mandate.
This landscape of Cap Estel from Gabrielle Swindlehurst is just one of many rich and emotionally powerful landscapes she has on her timeline. I spent nearly an hour trying to choose just one. They are all so very beautiful. I love the way she uses texture overlays to add depth. This one is particularly painterly. I love the rich colors – the bold yellow of the grass and the deep, velvet shadows. It’s stunning work and just a hint of the marvelous work on her photostream.
Petra Messioptra is a magnificent and imaginative photographer. This picture is just one of five amazing works she produced for her stint as a Second Life Community Best of Halloween Host with her blogging partner Vitabela Dubrovna. You really should click through and see all five photos. They are amazing. Why did I chose this one out of the five? Well, I like spiders and that skirt is just amazing.
I love the rich, saturated colors in the picture from Leela Qissinger and the romantic sensibility in the composition. The pose is well fitted with her hands beautifully placed. I love the bright sunlight streaming down on her and the sunlight reflections dancing on the water.
I love the perfect marriage of styling and pose in this picture from Amelie Fravoisse for Amie Fashion. The setting is perfect as well. In terms of composition, the subject in on a vertical third and looksinto the frame. The sword forms a strong line leading to her face. It’s just a striking picture.
I love this photo from Jeanie Waydelich for Costa Rica Sims fashion blog. I like the blurred background that brings the subject into sharp relief. I love the rich colors. In terms of composition, you get strong leading lines from the roads converging on the left and from the wagon tongue and the shadow on the right. The subject is perfectly placed and looks into the frame. While there is a lot going on in the background, it does not distract because its blurred by Depth of Field, but even if it were sharp, it would not distract because the part that is near her head is simple and not busy.
I love this photo by Voshie Paine for Hodge Podge. She was smart to shoot the windblown hair and scarf where there’s no trees to strand straight and untouched by the wind. While perhaps that would also require a less glassy water surface, I confess I love the dark water and its reflective quality. This is a striking photo – with an intriguing pose and styling that makes me wonder what happens next.
I like this lovely fall photo from MakaMara. While she is looking out of the frame, so is the scarecrow. <> One of the things that I like is the care she took placing her subject between the scarecrow and the birds so she avoids any crazy intersection with her head. I like the subtle ways the colors in her outfit are picked up in the background such as in the rusty can on the scarecrow’s hand.
I enjoy this picture from Bierno Yoshikawa and Deeta Aeon because it tells such an atypical story. This is a bad date picture. Did they argue over dinner or did he refuse to stop and ask for directions, getting them to the restaurant too late. I don’t know what went awry, but they are clearly out of sorts with each other and studiously looking away from one another. It’s just such a refreshing change from the more usual romantic couple photo, that I had to smile and enjoy the effective portrayal of a couple after an argument.
I love the quirky humor in this photo from Rinko Humphreys for her blog SL Style by N. The post has three pictures with the skuly avatar and they are all three adorable, but I had to choose this one because after all, what else would a skeleton do but pick up groceries?
I like the stark black and white of this picture from Falbala Fairey who is wise enough to know that sometimes when your outfit is quite complex, there’s nothing more powerful than letting it speak for itself. She stripped away everything, letting this complicated and spectacular headpiece stand against a a spare white background. She added some powerful lighting to get a shadow to emphasize that headpiece through repetition . The pose is perfect because its wider spread balances the headpiece that could very easily overwhelm an upright pose.