Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Overview: What makes a successful image?, part of Exploring Composition in Photography.
- In this course, we're gonna talk about creating eye-catching compositions. To do this, we wanna ask the fundamental question, "What makes a successful composition?" because composition is what's one of the critical elements of creating an image that allows us to communicate. Why is it that images like this one, which are shot down in Kodiak, Alaska, are successful? This is an image that emotes power. This image, completely separate emotion. This is more peaceful, these are floating icebergs in Grewingk Glacier Lake in southern-central Alaska.
This image is just plain fascinating. It's hard not to look at it first time you see it. Then there are images which are all about personal emotion. These are four images that I consider to be very successful. Why are these images successful? When we look at four similar images, images with similar composition, an ocean wave, a glacier image, sea stars and Zip, and these images are clearly (laughs) not so much in terms of being successful. Can we ask some questions that can be used in tools and techniques that help us create better-quality images on a regular basis? Images that are more like these, rather than images that are like these? And there are.
Over the years, I've developed a series of tools and techniques that allow me to ask this question and answer it. Here are the four fundamental characteristics that I use when I compose my images, simplicity, asymmetry, eye lines and point of view. You'll notice I have an asterisk next to simplicity cause it's the single most important one. Then I look at asymmetry, eye lines and point of view. Let's take a look at these four sets of images just briefly and do a quick comparison with 'em, and we'll dig into more details as we go. When we compare the image in the upper left-hand corner, which is unsuccessful, with this one in the lower right-hand corner, when we look at the basic simplicity, notice that there are only three elements here.
This is a much more complex image, with at least five or six elements. Notice all these elements are well separated from each other, they're clearly definable, whereas here we have overlapping image elements. And there's no key element in this top image, where here, the wave is obviously the key element. Here, simplicity, asymmetry, eye lines and point of view all come into play, particularly simplicity, asymmetry and eye lines. We compare these two images, successful, unsuccessful.
This image is relatively simple, with only two or three elements. This has multiple elements. This has a very definable foreground and background. Everything is well separated, where in this image, it's not. Once again, the top image, the unsuccessful one, is much more complex. This has a beautiful asymmetry to it, where the top image does not. This has nice eye lines that go from foreground to background, and this one, because of the complexity, it does not. We compare these two images. Again, just based upon simplicity alone, we see that the right-hand image is far more successful than the left one.
It's much easier to look at, much easier on the eyes. This has a clearly defined asymmetry to it. This one does not. This has some beautiful eye lines coming down these legs. This clearly does not. This has a more interesting point of view in terms of just looking at a portion of the sea stars rather than all of them. In images where you put it all together, where you have nice simplicity, beautiful asymmetry, good eye lines and an interesting point of view, you can create successful compositions on a consistent and regular basis.
In this course, photographer and educator Taz Tally details four pillars of effective, impactful composition: simplicity, asymmetry, eye lines, and point of view. Through example images and helpful graphics, the course discusses not only the things you can do to enhance composition when you're shooting, but also improvements you can make using imaging software such as Lightroom.
Throughout the course, Taz issues challenges to help you practice what you've learned. The course concludes with a look at how to critique—and thereby improve— your work.
- Composing for simplicity
- Employing asymmetry or an interesting point of view
- Including eye lines
- Composing in camera
- Cropping for improved compositions
- Enhancing images in Lightroom
- Critiquing your own work