Back to Basics here at Holy Crop! today.
I’ve written many times about the concept of space in your composition and ultimately your cropping, whether in-software, in-camera or both.
Here is a link to other articles about the Rules of Space.
When you have an entity in your image that represents a face, a front or a direction you should give consideration to a compositional crop that accentuates it. Today’s example could be the pigeon shown, a car, or any other front-to-back object. The point being that the direction of ‘facing’ creates a de facto motion to an image which must be honored in order not to offend the sensibilities of the viewer (and follow some of those persnickety artists’ rules).
in the first example, the bird is nearly in profile and facing right. This means we want to leave space to the right. How much space? Personal preference is a powerful guide here but, in general, the more perpendicular the facing entity the more space it needs. The harder it looks right, the more space we need to leave to the right.
If we kill all that space to the right the bird crowds the edge of the frame, leaving the scene awkward appearing.
Conversely, in this shot, the bird is facing right but its head is facing slightly left, looking over its shoulder. Which way do you go here?
I always advocate to give space for the bird, car, whatever, to look into. The bird’s interest is in something to our left so the space into which to look is wider left than on the right. Space is given to the left but because the bird’s attention isn’t ‘hard left’ we can get by with less viewing space.
Because of the duality of the birds’ facing orientation, we have a lot more compositional liberties. The juxtaposition of body vs. eyes plays against each other well enough that we can bend a few compositional rules. Here’s a crop where the facing space is less considered.
Playing the viewing space against a tight edge forces the bird’s eye and perceived attention toward the viewer and less towards our left.
Consider the faces, the apparent viewing direction, and the sensibilities and contradictions of the directional body in space in deciding where to place your subject and the image boundaries.
Rikk Flohr © 2013