Gauntlet: Off Center Allows Eye Movement

by Gary Fong
Photographer: Matt Jones
Click to Enlarge Photo


Whenever one shoots in distant lands, one’s perceptions are heightened due to the novelty of the environs.

Matt Jones, trekked across Malta following the pathway of 2000 year old footsteps.  He captured the visual flavor and sounds of a land much different from his own.  Why shoot something familiar when the unfamiliar so readily jumps before his lens?

Now for the Nit Picking

One of my favorite images from his journey is the hanging lace, filtering the afternoon light.  It provides a delicate foreground to an everyday setting, played day after day.

But I’ve always been bothered by the center weighted-ness of the image.  Having the subject more centric in the frame tends to freeze the eye to the center.  It doesn’t allow the eye to move around the frame, picking up the flavor of the environment.

The viewer receives a delicate sense of the country and is hit over the head with the lacey foreground, but it misses details from corners of the image.

The eye should flow over the print, picking up story elements that all contribute to the story.  If Jones moved frame left to allow more room for the subject to walk into, it would balance.  It would allow the eye to flow through the frame gracefully.

Eye movement is perhaps the most important element of composition.  That eye movement needs to convey visual detail in the story structure development.  And…it should be accomplished in an instant.