CUT AWAY

You don’t need to show ev­ery­thing to get the point across; some­times only hint­ing at a sub­ject says more than enough

NPhoto - - Nikopedia -

Athird vis­ual strat­egy is to show only the bare min­i­mum of some­thing – just enough so that the viewer can work it out. In fact, not only don’t you need to show the en­tirety of a sub­ject, but show­ing just a bit makes it more in­ter­est­ing for your au­di­ence. I’ll be look­ing more into this idea of not show­ing ev­ery­thing and giv­ing the viewer some­thing to do later in the year, but in the con­text of re­duc­ing it’s a tried-and-tested tech­nique. One ob­vi­ous way to do it is to make a frame break — de­lib­er­ately cut­ting off some or even most of a sub­ject with the edge of the frame. Re­ceived wis­dom of the tra­di­tional kind says that this is what you do not do, es­pe­cially cut­ting into a face, but if the point of pho­tog­ra­phy is to be in­ter­est­ing, this kind of ad­vice is mean­ing­less.

And, as with the pre­vi­ous two pho­to­graphs of the desert and the tea plan­ta­tion, lean and pared-down im­agery ap­peals to con­tem­po­rary taste in two ways: one is the in­creas­ingly short at­ten­tion span of most peo­ple look­ing at im­agery; and the other is that mod­ern life­style ideas lean heav­ily on hav­ing space to move around in – per­sonal space if you like – and min­i­mal­ist pho­to­graphs al­low view­ers to fill them with their own ideas.

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The idea here was to make a com­par­i­son and con­trast be­tween two fa­mous space hel­mets; one real, one fic­tional. There was no pos­si­bil­ity of bring­ing them to­gether phys­i­cally, as the Apollo hel­met was at NASA in Hous­ton, while the orig­i­nal Darth Vader hel­met is in a se­cret ware­house in

Not only don’t you need to show the en­tirety of a sub­ject, but show­ing just a bit makes it more in­ter­est­ing

San Rafael, Cal­i­for­nia (the ware­house of the spe­cial ef­fects com­pany ILM, set up orig­i­nally by Ge­orge Lu­cas to make

Star Wars, where all the props from this and In­di­ana Jones, and a few other movies, are kept in se­cret be­cause oth­er­wise it would be be­sieged by fans). Both were shot against a plain back­ground to make com­posit­ing eas­ier. One idea was to join them, but the pro­por­tions of each work against this – the dif­fer­ent heights of the vi­sors are dis­tract­ing. Sim­ply side-by-side is or­di­nary and also too wide an im­age. The fi­nal im­age, in which each is care­fully bro­ken in half, ex­actly down the mid­dle, still shows all that’s needed while be­ing slightly un­ex­pected.

Two space hel­mets, one in Hous­ton, one in San Rafael. Two dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, same kind of sub­ject

From left to right, dif­fer­ent ideas for putting the two hel­mets to­gether visu­ally

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