In this B&H Video, David Brommer starts with cave paintings, quickly works his way through Egyptian and Medieval art and arrives in the Renaissance to demonstrate the advancement of composition and the birth of the Rule of Thirds. From there, he offers us a wonderfully comprehensive yet down to earth lesson in photo history, theory and equipment, but most important, he demonstrates the basics of photographic composition and what makes a “good” photo.
The Rule of Thirds is often considered the basis for pleasing composition and what it does is to divide an image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically (think tic-tac-toe), suggesting that images which appeal to our senses are divided into three relatively even sections. Furthermore, it advances the idea that the four intersections of these lines are the ideal locations to place the main subject or point of interest within your composition.
With a nod to his beloved art teacher and utilizing examples from some of the greatest photographers ever, Mr. Brommer discusses positive and negative space, image complexity and directional and anchor elements and shows how these ideas play out in various masterworks of photography and how we can incorporate them into our day-to-day shooting. He goes on to mention the theoretical work of Roland Barthes and his notions of “studium,” the simple reasons for which we like an image, and “punctum,” a deeper relationship that gives an image transcendent meaning.
Referencing the images of Henri Cartier-Bresson, including the famous photo “Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare” (aka "Man Jumping Over Puddle") he points out that punctum is something that you cannot reach for, you can only be prepared for it when it arrives. And for photographers, this preparedness comes from practicing, seeing the work of the greats and knowing your equipment.
If you are a beginning photo student or a veteran needing to be re-inspired, this lecture is as valuable as any semester of classes. Not only will you learn compositional dos and try-not-to-dos, but with asides about quality lenses, shooter-subject interaction, “chimping” and how to capture a dynamic pan shot, you will leave this video a better photographer on many, many levels. Heavy duty!