When composing a photograph, I have often heard it say – isolate and simplify.
I spoke of simplicity the last time that I wrote about “The Magic Frame”. Let’s go into isolation. What they do not mean, when they speak of isolation, is that you go to a desert, or a lonely mountain and start shooting. That is a viable option for those who want to go off and become hermits. It is also a good option if the intent is to shoot isolated and lonely places.
What they mean, is that you need to isolate the central element, or elements, in a photograph and concentrate on them.
In my earlier days, my photos used to be a jumble of elements put together in a rather awkward fashion. I think it also reflected the state of my mind, where I wanted to have everything. I wanted it all – mystical insight, science, nature, literature, money, the hermit life, power, sex, no sex (because girls those days all wanted marriage). Life was a jumble and possibly this reflected in my photographs.
Over time, as I have learned, sadly, to make a few choices, I learned to say ‘nay’.
I would say that the same approach applies to composition. What do you want to focus on? A single element, or more?
If you want to include more than one element, then how do they balance out and interact with each other? Do they exist in a state of dynamic tension, or do they exist in harmonious balance?
How do you use empty space?
In the photograph above (badly edited, I know), I essentially focused on one element – the fisherman. The wide spaces of the water and the sky balanced each other, in my view, and helped to create a sense of wildness and emptiness.
There is one central element in this picture.
Simplicity goes with isolation when making a photograph.