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10 Inspirational Sergio Larrain Compositions

Sergio Larrain: one of the greatest composition masters in photography.


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1. Shoot like a child

ITALY. Sicily. Corleone main street. 1959. Sergio Larrain
ITALY. Sicily. Corleone main street. 1959. Sergio Larrain

“A good image is created by a state of grace. Grace expresses itself when it has been freed from conventions, free like a child in his early discovery of the reality. The game is then to organize the rectangle.” – Sergio Larrain

Organize your rectangle (frame), and like a Zen Buddhist, shoot without rules and conventions. Shoot like a child, when you are making your early discoveries in photography.

2. Depth

Chile, 1953, Passage Bavestrello, Sergio Larrain
Chile, 1953, Passage Bavestrello, Sergio Larrain

The reason I think this photo is great: the depth (girl in foreground in red, and girl further away in yellow). Also note all the compositional elements, arranged in a vertical (portrait) orientation.

Also the drama of the girl in yellow about to descend. The dynamic tension of the girl about to descend.

3. Shoot head-on, focus on the background

Sergio Larrain, Great Britain underground, 1958
Sergio Larrain, Great Britain underground, 1958

Don’t just focus on who is closest to you on the Frame. Put a subject in the foreground (man in red), shoot head-on, and focus on the subjects and scene in the background. This adds depth, and is more dynamic.

4. Triangle composition

Triangle composition. Sergio Larrain, Chile 1954
Triangle composition. Sergio Larrain, Chile 1954

You can see the great triangle composition here, with the three subjects in the frame.

5. Leading lines

Leading lines. Paris, 1959, Sergio Larrain
Leading lines. Paris, 1959, Sergio Larrain

See how Sergio Larrain made leading lines of the guard rail, pointing to the lady in yellow with the umbrella:

6. Segmentation of frame

Sailboat at sea, Chile, 1957 by Sergio Larrain
Sailboat at sea, Chile, 1957 by Sergio Larrain

One of my favorite pictures by Sergio Larrain — the beautiful framing segmentation of the sail in the top left corner, the little sailboat in the top right of the frame, and the happy couple in the bottom right corner, and the barrel in the bottom left of the frame:

7. Low angle perspective

Embrace a low angle perspective, by putting your camera closer to the ground, or crouching very low — shoot from the perspective of a child or even an ant.

FRANCE. Paris. 1959.
ITALY. Rome. 1959.
CHILE. Valparaiso. 1963.
CHILE. The “Isla Negra” house. 1957.
Photographs taken in the Valparaíso Region, on the Pacific Coast, inside and around the house of the Chilean poet Pablo NERUDA.

8. Photograph the street itself

The pavement is beautiful:

ITALY. Rome. 1959.
CHILE. Valparaiso. 1963.
CHILE. Valparaiso. 1963.

9. Dutch angle

Dutch angle— Larrain shoot from edgy angles, tilting his frame to make more dynamic compositions.

10. Silhouettes

Silhouettes, chiaroscuro, or the play between dark and light. This adds more drama and mystery in the photos, and a rhythm between the dark and lights:

BOLIVIA. Potosi. 1957.
PERU. Cuzco. 1960.
White Hall.
GREAT BRITAIN. England. London. 1959.
GB. ENGLAND. London. Trafalgar square. 1958-1959.

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More inspirational photography composition lessons

Free Introduction to composition PDF visualization

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Golden rectangle composition, from free pdf visualization on composition

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By ERIC KIM

Artist-Philosopher