Story is key. Disney knows this. But how do you tell a story in one picture? You always hear, “A picture is worth a 1000 words.” Your first reaction should be, “No.” But, this is very true. Think about it. Where does this picture take you? Do your eyes travel up the stairs and onto the balcony? Or do your eyes follow down the stairs and around the corner? Are you drawn to the convergence of the light strands at the top left of the frame? You will see, it is almost different for everyone. For me, my eyes immediately move to the paintings. And they are taken there by a series of elements. But first let’s talk about those paintings. They are facing the edge of the frame, and this is a large contrast from the rest of the picture. Everything else in the picture is composed in such a way that it keeps you in the picture. But it is the way the paintings are facing that makes your mind believe something is beyond the frame. This is called open frame. If the paintings were facing the opposite way, they would send you right back into the middle. But in this way, the picture tells a story and allows your mind to imagine. There is a small sense of mystery. So how do we get to the paintings? We get there by a process called contrast and affinity. Something I’ve learned recently, so bear with me in my definition. The mind is constantly looking for similarities and contrasts. It is the simplest form of cognition. With respect to lighting, what stands out the most? You should have immediately noticed the strands of ‘twinkle lights’ that spread out towards the top of the staircase. Your eyes are immediately drawn to them because they are on the far end of the gray scale in relation to tone. Or in other words, they are the brightest. They spread out in a way that leaves you at the top of the staircase. And then what? Well, the strong lines that dominate the soft walls of the courtyard bring you down and wrap you around the staircase. The only thing left is for you to be dropped off at the most strikingly different element in the entire picture. The offset paintings that look into the edge of the frame. It is unnatural for any subject to face the edge of the frame with out any ‘looking room’, or ‘nose room’ as it is sometimes called. This is a huge contrast to the rest of the elements that keep you trapped within the frame. So it seems that a story can be told within one picture. Visually, it is contrast and affinity that tell that story. What story do you see?
August 5, 2010