Simple & Complex
Usually when we start photographing we see something or other and just take a picture of it from right where we are standing. The shock comes when we look at the picture and see all of this other stuff all around our “subject," behind it, in front of it, on top of it. Was it there? Why didn’t we see it?
So an early task is to get rid of all that stuff, to simplify and clarify.
Then a while after we’ve begun to do that, we may start to notice pictures that are perhaps a little overly simple, even dull. So our next task is to invite that stuff back in…while controlling it and using as part of the unfolding of our image/story. I think this kind of narrative lies at the heart of how photographs work. The book spends three chapters on the ways things can be made to work in a photograph to choreograph what I’ve come to think of as the Eye Dance, the visual unfolding of the whole image bit by bit.
When we’ve done that, at some point it becomes a game to make a picture that is as complex as we can, while still holding the whole together. This can be challenging or a lot of fun or both.
Here are a few examples of simplicity and complexity.