I’m going to give you examples from my photos. If you think my pictures suck, then you can ignore this post and assume I’m talking out of my butt. If you like my pictures, then you can see a glimpse of how I compose my scene and the way I think.
These are just my opinions and how my eye sees if a picture is pleasant to the eye. Of course, there are many factors that make a picture pleasant to the eye.
One way is placement of the subject in the rule of thirds (which is derived from golden ratio). Another way is repeating patterns. Another way is good lighting. Another is nailing the technical aspects like focus, exposure, and white balance. Another is the actual subject itself. And so on. There are many ways to make a picture look good.
For this post, I’m going to talk about lines (shapes will come next). You have horizontal lines, vertical lines, and diagonal lines. I feel diagonal lines to be the strongest. I feel it makes the picture a bit more interesting. So I constantly look for diagonal lines in the scenes when I’m taking a picture.
I also think that people love that crappy dutch angle because it creates a diagonal line. Maybe that’s why they feel it makes the picture look somewhat interesting even though it doesn’t.
There’s 3 ways for a diagonal line to form, actual, strong-implied, and weak-implied.
Actual Diagonal Line
Actual diagonal lines have real diagonal lines in them. If I see it, I immediately frame the subject with the diagonal line and snap the picture.
In the picture above, Christin is framed under the actual diagonal lines of the handrail and the baseboard.
In this picture, there are actual diagonal lines everywhere. Do I even need to point them out to you? Although, I should’ve framed her under the diagonal behind her head. So I actually made a photography error. -_-;
When there isn’t an actual diagonal line in the scene, you can see a strong implied one. This is where we get a bit theoretical and artsy-fartsy. I consider strongly implied line where you can see an imaginary diagonal line in the scene. You see it immediately.
One way is to have 2 subjects look at each other. When 2 people (or animals, statues, etc) look at each other, there is a strong implied line. You can “see” the line. For example:
The girl (Tuong) and the boy (Raciel) are looking at each other. There is a strong-implied line.
Another way is repeating patterns. If you have repeating elements, you can line them up. Here are some examples:
You can see the pattern of 2 people taking pictures. They are in the same stance. So they are repeating patterns. I saw this strong-implied line and immediately took the pic.
Weak Implied lines are harder to see. But they exist. And you may not realize that it exists in a scene. Also, One weak-implied line is not enough. You need multiple of them or have it supported by actual or strong-implied diagonal lines. Here is an example:
The weak line starts from the woman in the top left corner leaning in and completes it by the end of the cell phones. Although you can say that the cell phones creates a strong-implied line because they are repeating patterns. So the weak line is supported.
It’s also supported by the other weak line. The angle of the shoulder and heads creates a diagonal line.
Here is another example:
Here, the weak line is the angle of her leg to her head. I physically posed Christin exactly like that to create that line. It’s supported by the actual diagonal line at the top. You can even say her arm creates a weak line too. I should’ve had her stretch her arm out and grab her dress or something to create another line. But you get the point.
So there you have it. I consider my shoots as design exercise. I deliberately look for and create those lines. Of course, sometimes, I turn off my brain and shoot away randomly. But sometimes, I’m deliberate and look for these things.