Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Emphasize An Important Element In A Photograph

On the left is a screen grab of the Rembrandt painting, "The Man With the Golden Helmet." On the right is a portrait of my dad.

My friend, Steve Inglima, pointed out a similarity (of sorts): Yes, the faces are important, but other elements – the helmet and the hands – are strong and obviously important elements in the painting/photograph.

Rembrandt wanted the viewer to notice the exquisite detail in the helmet - truly a work of art.

I want viewers of my photography to notice my dad's hands - which were at one time very strong and powerful - weak and frail at the time I took the picture. I remember many times when he leaned over my shoulder to help me with my homework – at the desk at which I am sitting in the picture below. (Yes, that's me! My dad took the picture with a 4x5-inch Linhof camera.)

When composing a portrait, consider elements in the scene – other than the face – that can help you to tell a story. You might be surprised at how many different stories you can tell in a single sitting.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you like photo philosophies like this, as well as tech info on photographing people, check out my book, Face to Face.


Glyn Dewis said...

al nice post Rick and a wonderful photograph of your Dad.

By the very nature of the lighting, composition and expression on his face, despite never having met him, I can just see his kindness; now that ie capturing someones personality in a single photograph is a true skill.

Thank you for sharing,
Best wishes to you,

Carolyn Fox said...

This is a good example of how a photographer can use light and composition to direct the viewers attention to certain details in an image. It's also another example of what a wonderful influence your dad was in your life, not only as a photographer, but also as a man of strength and character. Thanks for sharing.