Seizing Possibilities

Seizing Possibilities
Seizing Possibilities

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Movement and Rhythm-a principle of art

Two-step, tango, waltz, hip hop, ballet, jazz…how do your eyes dance through your art or photography?  The rhythm or movement your photographs have is achieved through many different ways and there are some things to consider when you think about the movement through any confined space.  Movement in its simplest form is the rhythmical and progressive suggestion or illusion of motion in a painting, sculpture, or design.  Movement, like this:

Spinning Wool

There are also several ways to move people’s eyes through your work.  Leading lines, the S or Z figures, the invisible movement of looking or movement of a subject, weight either by size or value, or the dance of light.
One concept in movement is very basic, that of leading lines.  Created by some of the obvious are paths, architectural lines, perspective, fences, rivers or any other lines you find that carry you through a photograph.  Some of the most dynamic lines are diagonal lines but the idea in this post is to think about movement of your eyes through your work.  Seems a bit like the Irish “Riverdance” or country line dancing, a lot of movement along a linear plane! How does it serve your vision and the feel you want to create in it.  That is and always will be your primary consideration how does it make you “feel.”  Does the linear movement contribute to the sense of what I am trying to accomplish or say?
Swing Bridge Shadows

A Night at the Opera
The use of the S or Z figures is also a good use of movement.  One of the things to remember is the Z movement is the natural way we read.  I realize for all cultures this is not true, but generally the use of the Z is natural reading from left to right in a photograph makes sense, yet both figures produce a total “read” or “see” of your entire photograph or artwork.  It is like a dancer who uses the entire stage.  Again though, does it contribute to what you want your work to convey to your viewer or more so the sense of “feeling” you want to create in it.

Cairns Morning L

Smokies Gold

The invisible movement implied by a figure in motion or the invisible glance between people or toward things is another form of movement in a photograph.  When you look at a photograph of someone, your general reaction is to follow their gaze; if you see them in motion you are urged to follow their steps.  It is the reason why the careful placement of the action becomes important.  If you want to “read” the entire photograph, to see what is happening placing the movement that occurs between the subjects will make all the difference. Where you want that movement to finally end is also part of the story; rather like the exclamation point or final pose.  How much implied motion there is in your photograph depends on the vision for your work.  Consider these children in motion…
Or follow the glances of these statues...where does it take you?

Now consider these two children who during patty-cake have the motion of their gaze of concentration and their hand and arm movement, to generate a back and forth movement between them.

Now consider the weight an object has and where that “weight” leads your eyes.  Generally the darker value an object has the more weight it carries.  Unless there is something more that leads your eyes in another direction, the darker value of an object or area of your photograph will drop either into or out of your frame depending on where it is placed.  If it makes sense place darker objects in a place that will make your eyes fall into the frame.  You must take everything I am saying with a grain of salt because there may be a place in your vision to make things disappear out of the frame of your work.  I just want to make you aware of how weight and value of objects come into play within the concept of movement.  I also hope that this is beginning to impress on you the importance of knowing your vision and what you want to convey in your work.  Think about whom you are and how you see the world and just where you want to take the people who view it.

Finally.  Light.  It cannot be understated.  Your eyes are drawn to light every time.  It is why we strive for the glint in the eyes or the light at the end of the tunnel or the light to highlight and put pizzazz in a flower or the light that defines color.  Begin to train your eye to see light.  With or without your camera look at everything you see in terms of light.  When you see it, remember it.  Frame it.  Take your photograph.  Or keep it in your mind’s eye.  But don’t forget it.  No matter where you are or what you are doing, look and see and compose with light in mind.  In terms of movement, remember that your eyes will follow it and fall on it and read it, usually first and last and it will leave the greatest impression. 

Watch it as it dances about your photograph and choreograph it in a way people will remember and it will have impact and will make a statement that fits with your own vision.  Or watch it as it breaks down as a prism into color which can act like something that will wrap you around the entire photograph like a pirouette or arms in an embrace.

There will be multiple means in which you utilize movement in your photography.  All the principles and elements of art can be utilized throughout your work as long as it conveys the feeling you want to have in your work.  All of the elements and principles of art are just tools to help you find and realize your vision.  They should not be confining but liberating and constructive to lead you on a dance to find your vision and carry it through in your work.  There is only one more Principle of Art to cover next week and that is composition!  Hopefully I will offer you more than just rules to help!

Other examples can be found here on flickr and facebook.

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