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

Vermeer girl with flute
Vermeer 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:

Golden rectangle gridline on Vermeer girl with flute
Golden rectangle gridline on Vermeer girl with flute

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:


Conclusion

Vermeer — looks like a street photo.

Study all great art, and see how you can apply the principles to your photography.

My sketch of Vermeer, girl with pearl earring.
My sketch of Vermeer, girl with pearl earring.

And remember, painting ain’t “better” than photography and vice versa. They are mutual aids.

Our lesson,

How can painting teach us how to be better photographers?

ERIC


PHOTOGRAPHY COMPOSITION 101

Dynamic Photography Composition 101

Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION
Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION

Dynamic Photography Composition Tips

Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

Composition Theory

Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM
Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM

Take your composition to the next level:


Street Photography Composition 101

DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM
DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM

For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”

Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:

Composition Theory

Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM
Woman and door. Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

 

Learn compositional theory:


Compositional lessons from the masters of art


Composition lectures