Monday, 8 August 2011

What makes a good photo? Part 2 The Power of Composition in light of current events...

Photograph: Amy Weston/

Well emotional imagery indeed with this photographer capturing a shocking image of a woman jumping from a building to the waiting Fire fighters below. She speaks about her experience here. Why is it so good? Well there are many things here that at first may not be evident. Firstly, the shock that this is the result of mindless violence in the UK. Secondly, the event is not the result of terrorism. It reminds us of some of the pictures taken on 9/11.

I have just spotted this today (as I began writing this yesterday) on the BBC news website. Very telling.

The now famous 'falling man' photograph by Richard Drew inspired an entire documentary. Never underestimate the power that an image can weald. If you look at the way in which this image was used in the poster promoting the film, you can see why it is so powerful, despite the crop. THere is a great article about it in Esquire, worth the look if you have the time to read it.

There are 2 very recognisable elements here, a man & the tower. The architecture of the Twin Towers is instantly recognisable. He is falling in a very angular shape which compositionally is very strong. He looks rigid, like the building he jumped from until it came crashing down that fateful day. Both images have the simple shapes of a figure against a strong block of colour. So without too many details we register, thus can remember, recall the image at once.

These people are not recognisable so can be projected upon, with anyone imagining how they would feel if it were someone they knew. It therefore becomes relevant to all.

There is no graphic violence, blood or gore & all the more powerful for it.

Photograph: Kerim Okten/EPA
Here is an image by Kerim Okten for the Guardian. It is just as powerful, scary, maybe it could be said procuring the fear felt by Londoners throughout the capitol. It also displays the organised element who are intent upon criminal damage. Again 2 simple elements for the eye to focus on & remember. This is by no means a rule, but simplicity works, information & clarity do much to get a message or event across.

This is by no means a new thing.

I have ben listening to the radio, hearing angry residents venting their dismay in the current chaos that London finds itself in. The power of the internet, twitter & pictures taken by the public have really come into their own. An anonymous individual has used Tumblr to launch 'catchalooter' to show the full power of the public.

The following statement is featured on the site:

Collating all images of looters from the londonriots. Get me on @CatchaLooter. If you recognise anyone, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or preferably via

This site does not support vigilante action; merely using social media to collate all images in one place.

It should also be clear that a photo appearing here does is not an indication of guilt in any way; wearing a balaclava and carrying a bag of stuff isn't illegal, nor is it evidence of looting. Just to be clear.

By holding fast & fighting back with the technology at our disposal a lot can be exposed if only to illustrate the events of recent days. It doesn't however diminish the importance of looking at this issue beyond blaming the criminals & looking at the causes. Lets hope that when all this dies down the media digs deeper into the problems that this has brought into the open. Use your camera, but be careful. Several photographers & reporters have been attacked.

There is much more to write on this & the subjects covered.

Till the next blog...

1 comment:

  1. Not wishing to detract from the seriousness of the London rioting, but the mocking/satirical use of the image also has a political and social role to play...furthermore, right now in the Capital, a little light relief is much needed...