One of the first things we learned about composition is that our photos need to have a dominant subject. Photographer Ben Horne explores the topic I find very interesting – should we step away from the “rule” and create photos that are quite the opposite, without dominant subjects?
I like to think that rules should be broken sometimes, and I find this video interesting because Ben tells us what we can achieve by breaking this rule. While it may not always be the solution, it can often produce an interesting photo that will keep the viewer engaged even without the obvious subject.
Personally, I have a bunch of photos without obvious subjects. I notice patterns, textures and colors in the world around me, and I sometimes like just filling the frame with them. Ben refers to these as “the photos of chaos,” that don’t have a dominant subject. Basically, you’re just filling the frame with chaos. But what can you achieve with it?
First of all, photos like this can simply recreate some fleeting moments. In Ben’s example photos, these were the scattered leaves or flowers, which could change or vanish in a matter of days or even hours. These are some of the moments you lived and some patterns you spotted. They could draw the attention of the viewer even without the main subject if the colors or patterns are captivating.
While we’re at the viewers’ attention, as Ben points out, these “photos of chaos” can even cause more interest than those with an obvious subject. The viewer could spend more time exploring the photo like this and wandering around it with their eyes. As a viewer, I find this true. So it’s probably no wonder that patterns, textures and chaos also attract me when I take photos.
Finally, sometimes this “chaos” actually creates a calm, balanced image. It’s even and pleasing for the viewer. And as I previously mentioned, it could make them observe and explore the photo a bit longer.
Here are Ben’s examples from the video, and I like them a lot.
I looked back at my photos on Flickr too and found some that could be an example of photos without a clear subject (although not as good as Ben’s):
As I mentioned, I found this video very interesting because of my personal preferences and because the approach like this is kinda rule-breaking. What do you think of the photos like this? Do you enjoy taking and viewing them, or you prefer seeing and capturing a clear, obvious subject?