Retracing a Photo Composition: The House Party

 I recently attended a themed house party – suits, dresses and Jazz music everywhere. Throughout the night I felt a painfully strong urge to create something. In the latter hours I decided to make a series of photos fitting a theme.  A guest suggested I try to present an interpretation of the word ‘superiority.’  I set up two shots with a little help from friends willing to take directions. Here they are along with my logic behind them.

I am a beginner in photography. I use a point-and-shoot Kodak. In technological terms as well as skill level, I’m at an almost complete beginning. The photos are not shot with much expertise but this is a valuable exercise in creativity. It’s a journey through trial and error in order to learn.

Photo #1: Superiority of Rank

The first is a scene with a master and servant or employer and employee.

My vision: I wanted to create a glance into a relationship between a superior and a subordinate. The servant was to be on his knee and charged with cleaning the dirt off his employer’s shoe.  He was to have an intense focus on the task to indicate an attention to detail. In contrast, the master figure was to look disinterested in his attendee’s actions. To make him appear more confidently at ease, I had him drink a beer, look away, and relax his free arm carelessly across his leg. The pecking order of superior and subordinate was to be reflected in the difference of immediately apparent benefit each character received from this arrangement.

Thoughts on outcome: I’m relatively happy though there is much room for improvement.  In hindsight I could have brought the servant’s facial expression in to proper view. This would’ve been an opportunity to gain some insight into the his emotions. If I were to re-shoot, I’d have the servant arch back a little, then move the camera’s point-of-view to  roughly adjacent with the master’s right-hand side, angling down and left to capture the full front of both bodies. That would’ve opened up an opportunity to introduce new subject matter to the right-hand side of the photo. But the servant looks acceptably intent on his task and the master acceptably caught up with other concerns. All in all it was an okay start, capturing some behavioral ques I could work with.

Photo #2: The Drive for Technological Superiority

After some dancing and laughing, I searched for a second opportunity to illustrate superiority. This time I decided to construct a subject with whatever objects I could find in the party house. This is the result.


The Vision: I tried to make one of Nintendo’s current generation of gaming devices – a Wii-u GamePad – look in control of one of their much older models, a Gameboy Color. There was an obvious contrast to be seen in hardware capabilities of the two; the Wii-u is the Gameboy’s technical superior. It is at the forefront of  gaming today. I also tried to create a difference in characterization between the two. The sunglasses, cigarette and earphones were used to identify the Wii-u with youth culture and give it life. I wanted the aged Gameboy Color to come across as void of any life. I gave it no animating props bar the headphone cable ensnaring it in the GamePad’s grasp. It was to be a tool for the GamePads amusement; an inferior machine in service to an advanced one.There was also an adorable irony in imagining the  GamePad being all retro by playing a Gameboy Color.

Thoughts on Outcome: I enjoy looking at the image but I see obvious issues with it; the flash was used carelessly and it resulted in an unintended white blip on the GamePad screen. I don’t feel much life coming from the Wii-u pad on first impressions. It takes a little while for me to feel it. Ideally such feelings would leap right off the screen but they do not. However I do think it was good idea in principle.  I’d like to return to this idea in future when I’ve more technical ability.

Today I learned…

I can pull together a set of composition ideas for a thematic motif fairly quickly in a given environment. But my skill in getting a desired exposure and my staging need a lot of work. But hey, baby steps, right?

Next Time…

Next time I’ll be posting some first attempts at applying a basic but  fundamental compositional technique – the Rule Of Thirds. See my other recent collection – The Transformation – here.


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