What Makes Sense: Composition


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An image is like music. A well composed image is a pleasing visual melody. Its content plays to the viewer’s mind and emotion. However, interesting content requires a visual highway in order to function, as a computer requires an an operating system to function.  A photo’s operating system is consists of four components; line, form, texture and colour (tone if black and white).

The key to the successful composition is using one of these four elements as the dominant  theme and any of the remaining three as sub-dominant. This formula creates an image without competing elements - an image that flows and communicates a message. 



Above: Line is the dominant theme in this image, with colour (sky) and texture (clouds and flowers) as sub-dominant.  The strong diagonal line draws the viewer’s eye into and through the photo. Strong line like this is called leading line. Wide-angle lenses seem to emphasize leading lines.

Form (mass or dimensionality) is the dominant theme here with line (denoting the shape of the fruit) and colour (of the fruit) as sub-dominants. Don’t these fruits look like faces without teeth?  That’s humorous content! The image at the top of this page is an excellent example of form dominant theme.

What a complexion! Texture is the dominant theme here; peeling and rotting skin. The eye scans the information and it triggers recall and experience of how it might feel to the touch.  Colour is sub-dominant.


I’d say colour is the dominant theme here. The repeating forms of the letter boxes create a pattern, and pattern to the eye is like harmony to the ear.  Patterns always please the mind’s eye in an photograph.

© Larry Frank Photographics ~ a Sandvox site