Dissecting a photograph

Photo #1

I wanted to walk you through a few photos and let you see what I think makes the images work.

In photo #1, I think a few things help make this photo work. Here is a quick bullet list of things that I think help make this work.

  • Rule-of-thirds—The man gesturing is on the right top thirds
  • Good use of Light—The light is coming onto their faces and brightest where the two men are in the photo
  • Gesture—The man’s gesture helps you know he is talking to the man next to him. Also, the little girl’s finger under her nose shows possible sniffles. The little girl’s eyes also redirect you back to the man gesturing
  • Shallow Depth-of-field [DOF]—The photo drops off in sharpness as you go back into the picture. Shallow Depth-of-field helps keep your attention towards the front of the man
Photo #2

I like this image of the ladies talking. Who can’t resist good “Window Light?” The rule-of-thirds is also working here. Shallow DOF keeps your attention on the lady listening. Catchlights in the eyes give life to her expressions. The hands communicate tension. I feel like she is dealing with some stress due to the position of her hands. With her head leaning on the wall, I also feel like she is relaxed and comfortable with this other lady. The other lady is slightly taller, and her body position and the lady listening to her communicate some authority. 

Photo #3

Street photography is a lot of grab shots. Here the wall is helping communicate the neighborhood where this young boy lives. You can tell that education is essential due to the signage. The little boy is relaxed in his body posture.

The photographer has a lot of space behind the boy and very little in front. The area helps create the tension that the future isn’t as hopeful. The boy’s expression questions and wonders who this photographer is, thus communicating a little pressure on the audience. The color palette is simple, yet the colors convey the Caribbean.

Photo #4

Photo #4 is of NBC news reporter Robert Hager covering a tornado disaster. Here the DOF is increased to be sure the viewer looks toward the debris in the background. Hagar is waiting to go on air and talk about the situation.

Here is where the elements of the videographer and his gear helps tell the story and, in essence, help to frame Robert Hager and the destruction.

Photo #5

In this photo #5, the subject is dead center, please pardon how this sounds, but this is why I put the issue in the center. The dead center usually is what you want to avoid, but it helps create even more tension here. The edges of the photo are trying to contain everyone in the picture. The lack of color around the image and then with the American flag center helps to make it pop and draw the audience’s attention. 

Photo #6

Here photo #6 uses color to help create interest and set the mood. Again, the light is off to the side and lets the viewer see the design of the lamp post. 

Photo #7

Using Rule-of-Thirds helped with the composition in photo #7. Also, using a shallow DOF, the eye goes to the sharpest part of the photo, which is the guy’s face. Here the expression of the man and the man he is looking at keeps you going back to the apparent friendship between the two guys. 

Photo #8

The light on the video camera in photo #8 helps start the eye looking and follow the morning to the subject. Also, all the cameras on the left are enabling to direct the eye to the right and the guys holding the trophy. Here the photographer has moved as close as possible and trying to contain everything in the frame.

Can you break down each of your photos? Today, study your pictures and those that catch your attention. Then, break them down so you can later use some of those techniques in your photos.