Creating visual interest

a visual story

In my previous post: photography 101 : composition inc. the rule of odds I ended on the hierarchy of elements that help make a photograph visually interesting. A good visual story has a main subject, and supporting characters. The stories that interest us the most are usually described as having more visual weight, that is what draws the eye to your hero subject. You’ve got to make it the most interesting part of the photograph. This way your viewer will be drawn to it.

There are many elements that can help you place your hero subject in the spotlight. Below are a few. If you have any more suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

negative space

Negative space is the empty area that surrounds the components in an image. Leaving a large amount of space adds lightness, the space opens up your photo, and makes it feel more spacious, as though your giving the subject room to breathe.

If the frame is full of too many patterns, colors or shapes it becomes too distracting. Give the hero subject a little bit of breathing space. For stock photography (what I do for Unsplash) negative space allows the consumer to add text.
Sometimes subjects look better when left alone or without much company; other times it might be stronger in a group. There is never just one correct method to apply. Play around with it. If it doesn’t feel right try some troubleshooting.
When I’m doing a project I often search for photos with negative space so I can easily add text, whether using a photo editor or in a web-page for adding text and buttons.

For the WordPress website Freitag, that I customized I used a full screen slider. Images with negative space were the best choices for adding layers of text. 


With the mouse over below you can see two of the slides, are open the website to see them in full size. 



You’re setting up your shot and something doesn’t feel right. Is it the placing of the hero subject? Maybe it’s not getting the attention it needs? The props might be trying to steal the show? Maybe your photo lacks contrast, or a prop is too distracting? It could be many different things. and sometimes it helps to go over the things that can add visual interest. Those methods that have been tried and proven. You don’t have to use any of them, your photo, your rules. However if you’re trying to figure out why your photos aren’t as good as you’d like, you may want to refer to the basic rules of composition. If you want to make really great photos that are going to get attention —keep working with the methods until it becomes natural.

Below is an overview of things that can help you troubleshoot and better prepare your compositions.

These cherries are the star. The patterned plate and utensils aren't stealing the show.

The heroes

Don’t be afraid to get close to your subject. If you’re photographing something with a nice shape and texture— get up close. While prepping for your shot go through the contents and look for the best ones. Spend time finding the heroes, set them aside and use them front and center in your shot.

next time around

curves & lines

I don’t know about you but I’m excited for my next shoot which will be next week. I’m going to be shooting for Valentines Day. I’m hoping all of these methods will become more natural with time. While searching through Unsplash for photos I’m thinking “I need to have good examples from my own photography of  WHAT TO DO!” For now I’d tag my photos with needs improvement and an A for effort! For now I’ll just keep on moving forward trying to learn with each shoot.

Next week I’ll share with you on using lines, curves and color theory in your compositions. I’m also working on a post for Flatlay Photography, including my set-up at home. I’ll tell you why I ditched my tripod for overhead photography. 

I’ll also be posting my resources for these posts. There are so many talented people out there. I read, and watch tons of tutorials and books on the subject of photography. I’ll be in the future embedding videos from other like-minded creatives that have a lot to share with us. 

Thanks for stopping by. Have a good weekend!


earlier in photography 101

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