Drawing Enhances Photo Composition August 31 2010, 0 Comments

JoAnne Streb was a painter. Her art she said was, “a gift to be shared.” She gave art classes in the basement of her house in the summers when I was a child. I took my first art class from her when I was ten. I took my last art class from her, private drawing lessons, when I was twenty-seven.

JoAnne use to tell me that a fine photograph would always make a fine painting. What she meant was that proper composition and light captured in a photograph could be used as a model when drawing or painting.

Those last art lessons were to help me to, “see the lines.” After all, drawings and paintings are about composing lines on paper.  The composition of the lines create light, texture and form. The same is true of the photograph. The capturing of light, form and texture makes up the composition of the image. "Seeing the lines" allows you to document the image in front of you whether on paper,  canvas, film or a memory card.

Drawing and photography have many things in common. First, you must decide what the focus of your subject is. What is your image about and what emotion do you want your image to convey?

How will you draw your image or document it with photography? Do you move in on your subject, showing a partial scene, or do you back up and show the whole? When you look through your view finder, imagine that as your canvas. What have you included? What have you left out.

Will your drawing or photograph be vertical or horizontal? These must be deliberate choices. Each choice you make will convey a certain look and express a specific view point.

What is in your background? Often the forefront of your image is interesting to capture but the background is full of "noise." Here, limiting your depth of field can be very helpful. Use your background only when it contributes to your intended purpose. Drawings often have muted backgrounds. This gives more importance to the main subject.

Look for the lines, shadows and highlights. These basic elements of  will help define your image and your purpose for capturing the image. 

Finally, how does your drawing or photograph relate to others? Does it document a social issue or condition? Or are you documenting a treasured landscape? 

 JoAnne was a master at teaching me how to " see the lines". In doing so, many of the above questions were answered before they were  asked. Find a good drawing class. You'll be surprised how much it helps you improve your photography.