This post is second part of the series ‘Photography composition essentials‘. You can find other parts here.
If your photograph engages a viewer more than 5 seconds, it means it has something for the viewer to look into. If we keep aside the story part and strictly look into the aesthetic aspects of a photograph, what composition rule or principle actually responsible for all that viewer’s attention? It is Depth or Perspective in a photograph.
As we all know, a photograph is a two dimensional plane and normally it doesn’t fully recreates the actual emotions of what we saw at that time ( and it never will. That’s why we should enjoy the process of taking photographs whether we get a shot or not). If anything that can help viewer to feel a little bit of reality in a photograph, then it is DEPTH. It is the THIRD dimension of a photograph and one of the key composition rule in photography.
What Depth really offers to the viewer is an artist’s preferred way to look into the picture. The user starts from foreground, moves towards the subject and then the rest of the information is filled in by the background. The only thing that is important is actually the relation of all these elements to fill in all the missing parts.
I actually didn’t notice that much about depth before I decided to write a post on it. I was merely using it for the aesthetic aspect of my photographs. But when I actually start thinking in more detail, I started to embrace its value even more. It prepares a ground for every picture and convince the viewer that this picture is a piece of artwork and not just another snap. It separates a good luck artist from a photographer that is consistently producing good pictures.
I am a landscape lover and I do agree that a lot of the time I get good photographs by chance 🙂 and instead of taking consistently good pictures by doing my homework, I am used to increase my chances by taking MORE pictures. That’s how I used to cheat my luck because it gives me the same net results. But this approach actually hurts you when you try to go PRO because you can’t come again and again to same location and try your luck when you do professional work. That’s why people willing to hire professionals because they give them sure results the first time they get a chance.
So if you want to be a PRO then start taking it more seriously and try to conceptualize the photograph before lifting your camera to your eye. Check whether you got enough DEPTH in your photograph that can engage viewers and if not, move towards some different angle or location until you find a decent spot to convey a reasonable DEPTH.
SO now I am going to show you some of my images that in my opinion have decent depth aspect. Keep in mind that I am not a PRO and I am still working on my stills.
1. Muttrah Corniche Sunrise , Oman
It starts with a boat (foreground) moving through the restrooms / parking (middle ground), all the way to the distant trees mountains and beautiful clouds (Background). All these things are related and complement each other. They depict the typical setting of a beach-side resort. The shoreline here is connecting all these levels together making it one complete picture.
2. Sur Sunrise , Oman
Here the road is leading towards the main subject i.e. Sunrise (Background) but instead of just a plain sunrise it leads towards it through a person standing (foreground) and town houses (middle ground). So it conveys enough details for viewer to observe. The on-going street light gives a sense of distance between all these levels.
3. Sidaab Street , Oman
This is sidaab street in Oman that leads to the Royal Palace. The main subject of this picture is actually the road and the journey (middle ground) but to create enough interest I put a car tire (foreground) and mountains and clouds (background). The street lights provides a sense of distance among foreground/middle ground and background.
4. Why So Serious , Quryaat Road Oman
I guess by now you know that I am obsessed with roads and I accept that I love roads and I found them to be a very attractive subject when it comes to depth and perspective. Here off-course that car with a smiley spare wheel is the subject (middle ground) along with the road in front (foreground) leads towards the subject and all the way to the mountains (background).
OK, enough of landscapes and roads. Now I am going to show you some examples from street/people photography too.
5. The fisherman , Sifah beach , Oman
Here there are no leading lines but from the proportion it is clear that fisherman on left is our subject(foreground) which is complemented by the boats (middle ground) and it goes towards the sea where he used to do fishing. All levels are perfectly related and gel together.
6. Muttrah Fish Harbour , Oman
The people here are either fishermen who came from fishing trips or the buyers who wants fish. The composition is simple. It starts with harbor (foreground) towards subject( which are fishermen in middle ground) all the way to water and their ships (background). No need to explain further.
I hope I made my point pretty clear now that when I am talking about DEPTH or perspective in a photograph, I am referring to all these levels (fore/middle/background) and their relationship with the entire picture. That makes a photograph complete and it makes people believe what they are witnessing. It makes it more interesting and entices them to look into each and every detail of a photograph.
You have some good examples of depth in a photograph? Do share with me 🙂