The Art of Directing Your Audience

by Selina Kearney

posted on 07-26-2016

What is included, excluded or cut from the frame can make the difference between an ordinary image and an exceptional image. There’s tension created from utilizing the edges of your image that is daring and can help direct the attention of the viewer to the desired detail. Here are a few tips on how to use framing to change everyday situations into more artful scenarios.

1. Play around with aspect ratios

Don’t be afraid to play around with how you want others to see your world. The aspect ratio plays an important role in the composition of your image. The most common aspect ratio of a DSLR is 3:2.

This format has been in use ever since Leica made the first 35mm film camera in the early 20th century. The 4:3 ratio is more common for compact cameras, as well as medium format cameras. It is slightly shorter in length than the 3:2, which albeit subtle, has an impact on composition. Large format landscape photographers favor the shorter ratios such as 4:5, 5:4 and 6:7 as they can better compose horizons within these confinements. On the other hand, the 16:9 ratio best captures panoramic views and is currently a popular format for website layout design.

2. Take advantage of the square crop

The 1:1 ratio has experienced a rebirth due to the emergence of smartphone imagery. The square is a perfectly balanced shape. It encourages the eye to move around the frame in a circle. There is less room than within a rectangular frame, so simplifying the composition becomes a necessity. Central composition works well within a 1:1 format, as the square provides a perfect, balanced frame.

But, back to rectangular frames! When working with the edge, be careful not to cut your frame too tightly on the side that the movement is propelling towards, as it won’t enhance the image, but could more so appear to be a poorly composed photo. Allow enough room for the dynamics of the picture to continue beyond the confines of the image.

3. Close in on the subject

Similarly, don’t be afraid to get close, but only to the degree where things don’t get too cramped- remember to allow for some negative space, otherwise it will just look like there’s not enough room to breathe. Trial and error will get you to the perfect equilibrium.

If cropping means concealing elements from the viewer, you can play with hiding features of your subject within of the frame also. Concealing features of your subject matter creates layers within the image, directing the viewer’s eye back and forth. It can take countless images to capture that one special moment within a scene, or some foresight into constructing an image as you see it in your mind’s eye.

If you’re used to composing your shots, try an alternative approach from time to time, and see how subtle changes can make all the difference within the realms of photography.

Topics: Photography

Products: Stock