Chris Shepherd: Composition and Catastrophe

Last night we welcomed Chris Shepherd who delivered 2 separate talks, Composition and Catastrophe. The first half was on Composition. He started off by pulling to pieces and 'judging' 2 well known works of art - The Mona Liza' and The Scream', in a tongue in cheek way, which went to emphasise one of his points, that everything was subjective and all rules were there to be broken when appropriate.

He illustrated his talk with examples from his own images, much of it we have heard before, but the way he delivered and illustrated the talk, brought it home and showed the difference that a change in composition could make. Chris emphasised that the photographer had many decisions to make which could make a big difference - portrait or landscape, simple of complex, obvious of obscure/abstract etc.

He also gave many tips, isolate the subject by judicious variation of depth of field; use varying geometrical shapes - verticals, horizontals, diagonals and triangles etc. I made a note of a couple of phrases - 'allow the viewer to enter the scene' by avoiding fences and barriers, opening gates etc. 'Break the pattern' when taking a regular pattern.

The points he made were liberally demonstrated with his images to emphasise the point, even though he thought some compositional tools were less useful - Fabernacci sequence being called a load of tosh as a tool!! (Poor Fabernacci!!) He mentioned a couple of books by Michael Freeman (I failed to make a note of titles *) to re-enforce these points and help - these can be found on Amazon and other online book sellers or probably ordered from a 'real' book shop.

I'm sure everyone will have benefitted from hearing this talk.

The second half 'Catastrophe' was much more serious and left many of us thinking! He emphasised the importance of backing up images and documents, talked about how to and where to keep these backups - (three copies in at least 2 different locations). Very sobering thoughts!!

* try: The Photographer's Eye or the newer edition