To share creativity requires collaboration, vulnerability, and perspective.
The photo collection below is a project inspired by fellow artist, Ann Taylor. Ann took the people portraits. I took the plant portraits.
This project is a demonstration of collaboration...and mutual admiration.
This experience offered a lesson on vulnerability.
Theses photos are a experiment in perspective.
Many thanks to Ann for sharing this day with me, for photographing me so beautifully, and for bringing new insight to a beauty lover's perspective.
How will you share your creative voice, collaborative spirit, heartfelt vulnerability, and unique perspective with the world?
Notice your subject, tune into movement, and experiment with lines.
The photographic strategy of using leading lines to pull in the viewer's attention is a common strategy for composing images that create interest. The idea behind leading lines is to make an image that leads the eye to the main subject of the image. A leading line paves an easy path for the eye to follow through different elements of a photo.
Just as the rule of thirds, which can be read by clicking here, leading lines is another concept that can easily be found on Google, but here I'm using shapes as lines. Shapes still keep the eye moving, and they also have the potential to communicate a more personal narrative while enhancing the traditional approach with greater meaning.
Before I move into my personal insights, I want to be clear: this is by no means the only way to view leading lines, shapes, movement, or any abstract concept. Feel free to take what you want and leave the rest and/or adapt it to your own culture, values, spiritual beliefs, and personal experience. Continue reading below for examples of how to use lines and shapes to tell a story.
Two or more subjects next to each other on a horizontal line create a sense of stability, calm, balance. Try imagining the horizontal line as balancing scales.
In the images below, I find the horizontal composition of the yellow marigolds more pleasing than the purple coneflower. The yellow marigolds have a more connected, peaceful presence. Their inherent shape and unique essence work well for creating stability, calm, and balance.
Interestingly enough, finding two or more coneflower blossoms that were naturally in a horizontal line from each other was a real challenge. After this experiment, I'm quite certain they don't have any intention to be viewed as stable, calm, and balanced!
What nature subjects make you feel stable, calm, and balanced?
Two or more (three or more is my preference) subjects on a diagonal line create an active, dramatic scene that builds tension. Try imagining the diagonal line as steps to climb.
I think both flowers are able to pull off the drama in the images below, but I think the marigolds are benefited by the dark, contrasting background and the diagonal running both ways - one with the full blossoms and one with the unopened buds. Personally, I prefer the drama and movement created by the coneflower blossoms and there were plenty of natural options for finding them on the diagonal. Which do you prefer?
When considering shapes, tune into your subjects. What is their natural movement? Is it balanced and calming? Majestic and powerful? Active and dramatic? Gentle and comforting? Chat with your subjects and allow them share their story with you. Listen closely and you'll be able to make an intentional image that honors their natural movement. Read about how lines and shapes can also be used to honor your movements by clicking here.
How will you tell your subjects' story using lines and shapes?
Notice your patterns, know your preferences, and experiment with thirds.
Traditionally, the rule of thirds is a composition technique in which an image is divided evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and the subject of the image is placed at the intersection of those dividing lines, or along one of the lines itself. If you want to know more about the technical approach, Google has a vast amount of information on this rule.
I've been aware of this rule for two decades, but it wasn't until very recently that I noticed a pattern of mine: I tend to place my subject on the right side of the frame and either have a secondary subject or leave empty space on the left (when looking through the lens). Once this came into my awareness, I started to get curious about why that is, and what I came up with is based on my culture, values, spiritual beliefs, and personal experiences.
I already knew that I valued photography because it facilitates a spiritual, mindful, and calming connection with the Earth. What I came to realize over time is that my ways of understanding the world connect the feminine, subtle, receptive with the left side, and the masculine, strong, active with the right side.
As I looked through my images, I had a sense that when I left space on the "feminine," left side, I felt called to slow down, take space, go inward. Using that insight as a baseline, I created a personal framework for using the rule of thirds to communicate a more personal narrative through images and to enhance the traditional approach with greater meaning.
Before I move into my personal insights, I want to be clear: this is by no means the only way to view the rule of thirds, feminine/masculine, mind/body/spirit, or any abstract concept. Feel free to take what you want and leave the rest and/or adapt it to your own culture, values, spiritual beliefs, and personal experience. Continue reading below for examples of how to use the rule of thirds to tell a story.
The framework for the horizontal line placement below came from my background in portrait photography, where I started working when I was 17 years old.
For portraits, we were taught that lowering the camera and looking up created a sense of power and greater presence, and that raising the camera and looking down created a softness and a gentle presence. To be honest, we were also taught to photograph men looking up at them to make them appear more powerful and women looking down on them to make them appear thinner. So, there's that...
What I like about photographing nature subjects in this way is that is looking up helps me understand the big, powerful, and all-encompassing perspective of nature and I feel a part of that power. In looking down, I feel a sense of awe for each tiny detail in nature and I feel humbled to be connected to such wonder.
When you notice your patterns, know your preferences, and identify your message, you can be more intentional about making images that are purposefully beautiful. Read more about the relationship between photography and life, and the connection to the rule of thirds by clicking here.
How will you use the rule of thirds?
Kristin Perry is a nature photographer navigating life's complexities by focusing on beauty.