Exercise 1.2 – Point (part 1)

Three images, placing a point within the frame.


With the point placed centrally, I fixate on it and feel no need to explore the rest of the image. This is essentially static.


With the point placed off-centre, my attention is drawn to it but I periodically find myself exploring the rest of the image before returning to the point.


With the point placed near the edge, I get an uneasy feeling that it is about to leave the frame, or fall off the edge (this may be because I used the right edge – a point on the left edge may have just entered, according to the Western left-to-right reading convention). I occasionally look at the rest of the frame but have to return to the point in case it disappears.

The same two elements, point and frame, in three images generate three different reactions. I do not regard any placement of the point as more “correct” than any other – what matters is the reaction that the photographer wants to evoke in the viewer.

The central placement draws full attention to the subject, which would be appropriate to a record or catalogue image. Feeling “static” is also no bad thing if we want to evoke a feeling of stability or serenity. A central placement would also work for a symmetrical subject (such as a reflection) if the intention is to emphasise that symmetry.

The off-centre placement is a more conventional composition device. It allows us to explore the frame at our own pace, then return to the main subject. When dealing with a shape that has a definite direction of movement (e.g. a vehicle or animal viewed side-on) we get the traditional “space to move into”

The extreme placement may be appropriate if the photographer wants to evoke feelings of insecurity, isolation or peril.


Michael Freeman reaches similar conclusions in ‘The Photographer’s Eye’ (Freeman 2007:66):

Central point, “Static and usually dull”

Slightly off-centre, “Moderately dynamic, without being extreme”

Close to the edge, “Markedly eccentric, needing some justification”

Reference, Freeman, M (2007) The Photographer’s Eye. Lewes: Ilex Press


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