Composition and the Movies

People often ask me what inspires me and I have to say that my main influences are the movies. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved movies and when I started making photographs, it was films that influenced my composition and camera angles and still does to this day.

Roger Ebert Reviews Touch of Eviltouch-of-evil2

Here’s how some people make a picture: They walk around and see something interesting, then holding the camera up to their eye, take a shot and keep walking thereby making several mistakes: Since a camera is horizontally shaped, they shoot a horizontal, never thinking that maybe a vertical shot is what’s needed.

Next they shoot at eye level, since that’s where their eyes are. When Orson Welles made “Touch of Evil” the idea of using an eye-level shot to open the film didn’t occur to him until much later in the long continuous take that opens the movie. He didn’t do it and neither should you. Take a look and see what I mean.

To totally explore a subject and create the best possible photograph, I believe—and like everything on this bog, this is my opinion— you should “shoot through” a image. By that I mean that you should changing the camera angle while walking around a subject until finally making a photograph. But don’t stop there. Keep shooting variations tweaking the camera angle and maybe lens focal length (although Welles uses a prime lens for that shot) until you arrive at something you like better. But don’t stop there either. Continue shooting until you don’t like what you see. Only then can you  stop. The idea of shooting through an image/composition works equally well for all kinds of subjects including landscapes or even one of my other loves, automobiles. Portraits too.

Author: Joe Farace

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