What can we learn: Movie Composition
The other day, I spotted an article about the 70 Most Beautiful Cinematic Shots, and I wanted to see what techniques directors use in movies that we can use in our photographs. People often say that they would like their “Pictures to tell a story.” So what better place than the movies to do a little research. After scanning the highlights, I selected a handful of the movie stills so we could see what techniques they use in the movies.
What did I find?
There were four major techniques that I found most popular in movie making. In some images they are overlapping, like Figure to Ground AND Atmospheric Perspective, but for simplicity I grouped them by the strongest element in each frame.
- Figure to Ground
- Atmospheric Perspective
- Linear Perspective
- Central Composition
While most photography teaching will command you “Do not put the subject in the center of the frame,” movie making will tell you that central composition works with amazing frequency, no matter how many times we see it. I tend to agree with the movie makers. The other more subtle techniques of Atmospheric Perspective, Linear Perspective and Figure to Ground are the basis of my online courses and “The Photographer’s Tool Box.”
For those who insist there are no rules in photography, remember that there might not be hard-wired rules like in a board game, but there are DEFINITELY tools. The whole purpose of training is so that our actions become intuitive reactions to a given situation. The key word in that sentence is “become.” Intuition without training is like picking up a guitar for the first time and making sounds…trust me, it will not sound like Jimi Hendrix no matter how much “intuition” goes into the performance. Cameras are no different.
Here are a selection of stills from movies in the last 40 years. As we can see, by using these techniques the movie makers are not limited in their creativity. The options and expressions are endless. What good technique does is allow the viewer to have an effortless viewing experience, which is one of the many reasons movies are popular.
Figure to Ground
When a photographer can begin to think more like a director and less like a surveillance camera operator, their pictures will become infinitely more powerful, interesting, and stand a much better chance of telling a story in a single frame.
To read the original article visit here: The 70 Most Beautiful Cinematic Shots in Movie History