I recently had the pleasure of reading through Tavis Leaf Glover‘s latest book Photography Composition and Design. A book that aims to take the complex nature of composition and make it easily digestible in order to pass on 100’s if not 1000’s of years worth of information passed on through the ages.
While art is something that is almost entirely subjective, there are certainly traits and techniques that can be included / learned about in order to “improve” your work. Tavis has created a book that I think will do just that for you.
From composition, to colour theory, posing, technical gear choices and lighting to name but a few. If you think the rule of thirds is the main way to compose your images, buckle up. You’re about to get a life changing eye opener!
It’s no secret that I’m heavily involved in studying under Tavis and to be able to sit here today and finally review something he has released is a literal honour. (Disclosure).
Tavis’s teaching and knowledge has changed my artistic life forever, changing the very way in which I see the world even when I walk down the street. My work since studying under Tavis has shot through the roof and I owe him my future as an artist because of it.
The book itself comes in just under 300 pages, and is currently priced at $15. It covers an expansive list of content. Your eyes are going to pop at the knowledge on display here and better yet, due to Tavis’s approach and image heavy examples it’s very easy to take in /understand.
Check this list out:
As you can see it’s a LOT of information on offer here so pacing is important. With that, I would say that the pacing within the book is pretty gentle even though a lot of content is covered. It certainly never feels slow or boring, in fact I ripped through the book in a single day.
Some of the key moments in the book for me were FGR (Figure Ground Relationships), GAC (Greatest Area of Contrast), Edge Flicker, Gamut (direction) and the grids. Employing these within my work each time has allowed me to understand how to place subjects, where to place them etc.
FGR focuses on helping you understand how to make sure your subject stands out most when in a scene, making sure that the subject has an easily identifiable shape and outline etc. GAC is as it sounds, educating you with practical examples on how the greatest area of contrast will draw the eye, so be careful where you put it!
Edge Flicker is about making sure that the edge of your frame is clean and free from “holes” that lead the eye out of your composition. If it can’t be avoided Tavis has some great tips on how to keep the viewers eye within.
Gamut was a really interesting one to learn about as it teaches you about direction and flow within an image, too little and it’s boring, too many and it’s confusing. When you start adding these things together alongside Law of Proximity, Symmetry etc etc you really start building a huge wealth of composition based techniques.
Here’s an example of a quick breakdown I did on one of my images:
The red is Gamut (direction), as you can see the image clearly sticks to 2 main directions, the orange is an implied triangle, the cyan is the direction of the composition as a whole (left to right) and how the eye line of the model is up towards the top corner to subconsciously bring you back into the image etc.
The book covers everything you’d need to improve your photographic composition, though it contains a small section on colour, so I would direct you to this article for some more.
The strongest chapter for me was the grids. Once you understand a canvas that isn’t the rule of thirds, your options become limitless for work. That’s an amazing feeling.
Relevant Content: 10
Ease of Reading: 9
Image References: 8
Overall: 9/10 must buy.
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