I’m super inspired by Johannes Vermeer — his compositions, and photographic vision.
Camera obscura as drawing aid
Johannes Vermeer probably used a camera obscura to aid his painting compositions.
To me, this is great — I find more inspiration from him, because he bridges the gap between photography and painting.
Also, it shows that photography and painting aren’t opposed forms of visual art — rather, they are complementary.
Learn more: VERMEER PDF BOOK >
Here are some composition break forms, with iPad and Procreate app:
1. Girl reading open letter
Note the vertical composition, and the framing of the scene. The depth — with the curtain on the right (red) and the far left, the foreground on bottom (grey), and the girl in the middle of the frame in yellow.
My favorite detail, the cherry on top: her reflection in the mirror.
Also note the diagonal “X” composition that works well:
2. Girl with flute
I also love this picture — it is like a dynamic portrait we could shoot with a camera.
The reason why I think this composition works: the direct eye contact of the girl, the triangle composition between her head and hands, and also the diagonal composition:
3. Lady seated at virginal
4. Mistress and maid
5. The love letter
Note the frame within the frame —the frame of the doors and curtains center the focus into the center of the frame.
Also note the eye contact of the subjects, which are opposite diagonal to one another:
Study all great art, and see how you can apply the principles to your photography.
And remember, painting ain’t “better” than photography and vice versa. They are mutual aids.
How can painting teach us how to be better photographers?
Dynamic Photography Composition 101
- Introduction to Dynamic Photography Composition
- How to Visually Analyze Your Photography Compositions
- Dynamic Tension: Opponent Based Theory For Photography
- Opponent Process Color Theory For Photographers
- Dynamic Photography Composition 101: Figure to Ground
Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- 7 Simple Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make Aggressive Photography Compositions
- 10 Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make More Dynamic Picture Compositions
- Unorthodox Photography Composition Techniques
- Deconstructed: Saigon Eric Kim Photos
Take your composition to the next level:
- Gestalt Theory
- Center Eye
- Dutch Angle
- Deep Depth
- Leading Lines
- Figure to Ground
- Fibonacci Spiral
- Composition by Eric Kim
Street Photography Composition 101
For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”
Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:
- Composition Lesson #1: Triangles
- Composition Lesson #2: Figure-to-ground
- Composition Lesson #3: Diagonals
- Composition Lesson #4: Leading Lines
- Composition Lesson #5: Depth
- Composition Lesson #6: Framing
- Composition Lesson #7: Perspective
- Composition Lesson #8: Curves
- Composition Lesson #9: Self-Portraits
- Composition Lesson #10: Urban Landscapes
- Composition Lesson #11: “Spot the not”
- Composition Lesson #12: Color Theory
- Composition Lesson #13: Multiple-Subjects
- Composition Lesson #14: Square Format
Learn compositional theory:
- Why is Composition Important?
- Don’t Think About Composition When You’re Shooting Street Photography
- How to Use Negative Space
- Street Photography Composition 101
- The Theory of Composition in Street Photography: 7 Lessons from Henri Cartier-Bresson