Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Drawing the Eye: Elements Within (Part 1 of 2)

Every good image has a subject. Not only does it have a subject but your eye is drawn to that subject by either elements within the photograph or through some method of post processing. This post will deal with the Elements Within the photograph. One fundamental rule you can remember is that the human eye is typically drawn to the lightest part of the image first.

Elements Within
This is clearly the most effective way of drawing attention to your subject. You can do this through a variety of methods. Here is a quick list of what you can use:
• Exposure: You have to understand the technical aspects of photography in order properly show your artistic vision. Watch out for blown out highlights around the edges of the frame. If you are going for a blown out look it may be effective but if that is not your intent it can be very distracting.

• Leading Lines: These are items in the photograph that show lines leading directly to the subject.

• Sharp Eyes: If you are photographing people or animals it is vital to keep the eyes in focus. If the eyes are out of focus you have missed the image. Why? Because our eyes are instantly drawn to the eyes of other creatures. It is just the way we as humans are designed.

• Rule of Thirds: Using the rule of thirds helps to improve your overall photograph but it also acts as a draw to the subject (provided the subject is defined). Again, you should not always use this rule for every photo but you will find it effective most of the time. Make sure that you understand the rule before you break it.

• Depth of Field: This is a fantastic method of drawing the eye. If you have a very shallow depth of field (wide open aperture) then the area behind the subject is blurred. This causes the subject to be separated from the background drawing the eye.

• Flash: This is probably one of the most under used tools at a photographer’s disposal. If you lower the ambient light by about one stop +/- and light the subject with a flash you have an instant way to pull your viewer to your subject. This may be a video tutorial at some point in the future. Check out “Captured by the Light” by David Zizer for great instructions regarding this aspect.

You must really consider your subject and how the environment and/or the in-camera choices you make draw the viewers eye.  Look soon for the follow up post;  Drawing the Eye: Post Processing (Part 2 of 2).


  1. Other than WOW - can say thank you for the tools to draw the eyes!

    As a painting artist, similar ideas are used to draw the viewer into the painting. Hmm.