Theories of Image Composition and Ideas on How to Make Your Images More Interesting

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."

Leonardo da Vinci

We humans are naturally drawn to things that are beautiful. We avoid what is ugly, scattered and disorganized. Our visual brains want to complete a broken circle, keep moving in the visual direction it's already going, remove elements that don't belong, and fix what is visually broken. We all have a natural sense of composition called perception.

Our visual intelligence training started as early as preschool with coloring books and learning toys. We were tested for it many times throughout our education (remember Iowa Tests in grade school and SAT tests in high school?). Mensa applicants are tested for superior visual intelligence. Perhaps this is what is meant by "an eye for photography". Hopefully we all have it!

As photographers, we are always looking for a better composition. Theories of composition have been taught to us for years...the rule of thirds, negative space, framing, etc. How can we all use the same theories and still create a photograph different than everyone else, especially when we're all taking pictures of the same critters? We're inspired by other artists' work, but what can we do to take those ideas to the next level - to recreate something different and call it our own? How do we create an image that nobody else has already captured?

In this presentation I'll be taking you beyond the static and boring rules of composition we already know by introducing theories and ideas you may not have considered for underwater photography. Those of you who already know me know that I've never been much for "rules". I'm usually the one looking for ways to break them! However, before you can do this you need to understand all the rules, know what your audience is looking for, and get their attention by breaking the rules properly.

This is an inspirational presentation for photographers of all skill levels, both underwater and topside because it doesn't focus on how big your camera rig is, how much you paid for it, or how much experience you have. The ideas in this presentation will benefit everybody interested in learning.

I'll show you lots of examples of how you might typically shoot a particular subject, then offers ideas on new perspectives and techniques you might want to try next time. I'll share some inside tips on how to compete in an underwater photography contest (as seen from the eyes of the judges), show you some winning photos, and explain why those photos won the big prizes for the photographer that shot them.

This presentation is one that I have been developing for a long time. I love sharing the theories and ideas and I continue to learn from it every time I present. It's a combination of what I was taught in art school, learned from mistakes I've made, researched in books and online, and picked up from other pro photographers I've known.

I hope you decide to join us for the presentation. I'm really looking forward to coming to Florida to see many of my old dive buddies and to meet new ones.