Zen photography thought for the day: Inside the vertical there may be a better horizontal. When it comes to photographic composition, I prefer the “arty” method — that is, I carefully arrange the image in the view finder of the camera before the shutter is tripped, then exhibit the result full-frame. But I’m no stickler. I know that sometimes a well planned composition is simply not possible, and a crop or two may save the day.
My idea of a good photograph is one that elicits an emotion in the viewer, either positive or negative. The crop above was selected with the idea of pure “joy” in mind; and to intensify that feeling I “zoomed” in on the original (see below) to eliminate unnecessary details and emphasize the dynamic lateral movement of the woman’s head out of the top left side of the frame. Whenever possible I like to have important elements “bleed” off the edges, which adds to the drama.The extreme crop keeps the eye of the viewer where it needs to be, focused on the expressions of both the young lady and the cat; it prevents the eye from wandering up or down, right or left, forces it to remain close on the interesting blur of the woman’s head and the sharper head and body of the animal.
The original image was one of those “just shoot and hope for the best” deals that happen so fast you’re happy if you get anything at all. With animals and kids you can forget about careful composition or re-staging an action, so the crop becomes a useful salvage tool. This image makes me smile each time I see it — and the way I decided to crop it, I think, enhances the playful feeling. The idea is simple: Make it easier for the viewer to share the joy that I felt the first time I saw the image come to life in the developing fluid.
This is an edited re-post from 7/23/08