Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Up Close Or Far Away?

The black and white rockform image I posted the other day is now up on my examining room wall and I get to see it every time I go in to see a patient. I have discovered that I really like it from a distance, but am less thrilled with the image when I stand right in front of it.

This raises issues of print size and viewing distance, but more important is the question of whether really good images need to work both at a distance and up close, or is it acceptable to work well on one level or the other, and if so, which is more important?

Not all of this has to do with size. Some of it is also about first impressions and careful study - an image can really catch your eye, but not offer a lot of fine details which reward close study, or it might only be appreciated on close study, not offering overall design to attract your attention.

I'm not sure that any of us plan images down to the point of designing initial impact vs. later rewards (ok, advertising photographers do)but it might pay to at least think about these concepts when looking through our own images, perhaps asking ourselves whether we are happy with how the images come across.

If too often we are disappointed with either initial impact or staying power of the images, then we could make this an added checkpoint on the list of aesthetic checkpoints I discussed a few blogs ago.

If what is lacking is initial impact then consider the following suggestions.

- bold patterns
- large blocks of colour
- simple designs
- plain backgrounds
- light subjects against a dark background, whether naturally or through burning in
- careful use of editing to make the iamge more dramatic without making it harsh

If on the other hand what is missing is staying power, then you need to give the viewer something to come back to or stay with - interesting detail, stories within stories, added layers of sophistication in composition - not just the big items.

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