The landscape genre of the late 'Eighteenth and 'Nineteenth centuries seem to influence photographers today, despite all the changes in perspective found in the arts.
Flowers are still presented in conventional ways, either like botanical specimens or in tried and tested arrangements.
Most of my photos could have been taken at any time in the past 100 years, from the composition point of view.
Perhaps we could share insights on how to break the moulds.
Here are two examples.
Artistic (?): http://www.flickr.com/photos/anouilh/3005355458/
When, in the past, I uploaded photos that might have come from a French "Nouvelle Vague" film, the Rule of Thirds has been cited as a reason for me to get back in my box.
Is this conventionality dominating the aesthic of photography on the World Wide Web?
A very interesting post. To kick off i'd suggest that it isn't so much about convention but in producing something that is pleasing to the human eye. It is subjective to the receiver but it would appear - at least anecdotally, that you may produce something with nice aesthetic quality and pleasing to the eye, which 80% - 90% of viewers will enjoy. The remaining 10 - 20% of receivers (viewers) may think its complete dross / convention / boring / etc..
There are plenty of what I consider quite brilliant photographers who post their work here. Some of them are more on the unusual side of things - they see the world differently and take viewing pleasure in different things. Their non convention is interesting to me but not something that i would set out to imitate or explore. Perhaps when I've mastered convention i'd be interested in something more 'adventurous'. I think being more adventurous is difficult and can lead people up their own ass in terms of "I took this really interesting photograph of a someones left over dinner" and an 'aint I wonderful attitude continues.
The rule of thirds is great. Line everything up on the lines and intersects and bingo! - you have a nicely positioned frame which a majority of people will find pleasing. As photographers, the greatest pleasure and interest we get from the art is when others see your work and take some interest in or delight from what it is that you have captured. Sometimes it depends on what you're seeking yourself in your composition. Is it that you want to be considered capable of taking a good shot or taking an interesting capture, or having a curious eye for the unusual and the bizarre. Or perhaps, maybe all you want is to please yourself and your own expectations of your inner motivational compass needs nothing more.
I think as a receiver of the photographic work (viewer) you must at some level understand the work which you are reviewing in order to be able to appreciate it. Thus that which is considered conventional is probably understood and hence appreciated by more of the viewing population.
Whether convention or the extreme satisfies you, it all makes life more colourful really.
That's a great reply.
In fact, all my experience of looking at art is that I am drawn to unusual imagery, but still produce relatively "normal" looking shots, taken in conventional ways and with regard to the rules. I think the viewfinder in the camera influences this strongly, as everything is framed instantly for the photographer.
This almosts amounts to an admission that the camera is in charge...
If Picasso had lived in a different artistic environment I think his work would have been very different and that applies to many famous photographers. I'm always intrigued by art criticism and the effects it has on how artists and photographers work.
This is a very insightful description of what happens when people are asked to critique a "masterpiece" presented without any mention of who made it:
With regard to "masterpieces" in any medium, I think they can all be open to opinion, just like anything else. What tends to truly make a masterpiece for me is that it changed convention, or broke a new style, or did everything that we all accept as "rules" to absolute perfection.
With regard to composition, I imagine I will get shot for saying this but it's actually not something I ever really think about too much, or at least rarely in any great detail ( maybe this shows in my work lol ). I think intrinsically most people have a way that they themselves like to take photos and I hope that the vast majority of photographers work from the point of view of being happy with their own work, as opposed to seeking outside validation. Don't get me wrong, having someone tell you that something you have done is a nice piece of work is always a great feeling but I would not like to think that I take my shots just to hear those words.
I think it cost nothing ( for people on Digital anyway ) to experiment with angles and different compositions of a subject, you can often go back t to a photo and something jumps out that you previously missed at the time of taking and further experimentation opens up a whole new few of a possibly tried and tested subject.
Don't forget that composition is only one element of a photo.
Unusal angles, breaking the "rules" of composition etc don't of themselves make a good shot, the other important elements must also play a role.
I bought a medium format earlier this year so Ive been experimenting a lot with square format in film and digital.
Ive also been using the Rule of Thirds in conjunction with the golden ratio:
or trying anyway. I suppose I unconsciously do the rule of thirds thing because I had it drilled into me when I started taking pictures a long time ago.
Im interested in the concept of the golden ratio and the fact that its an inherently pleasing shape, used for centuries in architecture and art.
This is a very helpful discussion.
I agree about the "masterpiece" trap, Dragan, which is why I used inverted commas. However, a society can be analysed clearly through the iconography it chooses to validate and the question of what makes a "classic" always attracts my attention.
Your photos are so beautiful, Hugh_C. Medium format seems to offer a much wider canvas.
A very helpful person on Conns Cameras recently took time to explain crop factor, which should be taken into account when setting up a shot.
I agree that composition is only one factor, Covey, but it is what the viewer sees first... something about the bitmap nature of how the brain perceives shapes.
One aspect of composition fascinates me.
Is it possible to know if a person is right or left handed from the way they choose to present a group of objects? I think this is so.
At the moment, a vast group of, seemingly, right handed photographers are flooding the Web with photos of Christmas trees, all boringly set in the left hand side of the frame.
Any ideas for how to break this mould would be welcome.
Bumping this in the hope that posters might add some "alternative" shots that found favour with viewers.
I enjoy setting up tabletop arrangements from time to time and making "edgy" shots.
In the centre or on the right maybe.
It's sometimes fun to push things as far to the edge of the frame as you can, to see what kind of feeling it brings in to the image.
I've noticed i'm cropping to a square more and more, and i'd love a way to be framing for it in camera - apart from having to change to MF that is :/
Shoot with your left eye looking thru the viewfinder, simple as
V. Interesting thread people!
It's funny you should mention the left/right-handedness thing. My understanding of it is that balancing images to the right side traditionally makes for a stronger image, because the eye leads left to right if the image is balanced horizontally. So using this idea, photos with the subject on the left side would be balanced 'wrongly'.
Now, I'm left handed, but would normally balance shots to the right side ( or as examples). I was never sure was this natural or by convention (eg I play hurling 'right-handed' as I was taught that way).
Do you feel that most people shoot to the left side if they're right handed? Wouldn't that surely mean that by convention the left side would be the stronger side?
Not sure if that makes sense?
Oh, and for thimblefull's point above, looking through the viewfinder with your left eye (as I normally do) really does change the view for you, especially as it encourages you to close the right eye, so you only see what's in the viewfinder. I reckon it helps you to concentrate on the image more.
I use my left eye mostly but that's probably because I have better vision that side. I've also read quite a lot about left eye/right eyed-ness, and think I'm bordering on centre/left
Like Elven I'm getting increasingly "square" since buying a MF a year ago.
not sure what the composition of any of these say about me ...
except that they have a common axis, sort of.
Maybe a different slant on the left hand right hand thing. I read somewhere recently that chinese / japanese may appreciate a photograph differently because they read it narratively from right to left, since that is the way their language is traditionally written (Letters written downwards, going from right of page to left of page).