Understanding the Elements of a Photo

A photograph is composed of four elements: “light,” “color,” “composition,” and “frame.”

If you visit blogs, photography cafes, SLR clubs, etc., there are quite a lot of lectures on how to take good pictures.

This is proof that DSLRs have become popular, and in keeping with this, various photo-taking know-hows are overflowing.
In addition, thanks to technological advancements, cameras released these days have become easier to operate, making it easy for anyone to take pictures as long as they have a certain degree of theory.
However, understanding the technical aspects does not always mean you can get good photos.
This is because photos are not taken by a camera, but by the person operating the camera.
Even if you understand the technical aspects of cameras and the theoretical aspects of photography, if you lack the photographer’s perspective and understanding of the world, you will never be able to produce good photos.
A photo that properly understands light, color, composition, and frame, which can be said to be the most basic components of photography, and adds one’s own thoughts and ideas to them, can be said to be a true ‘photo.’

Let’s take a quick look at the four major components of photography: light, color, composition, and frame.

Like the photography term ‘drawing light,’ light in photography is absolute. Just as photography is said to be an art of light, it is impossible to talk about photography without considering light.

Colors generated by the wavelength of light can only be seen when there is light. Each object has its own original color, but the color is subdivided into various colors depending on how the light shines on it. Light and color have therefore been recognized as the most important parts of photography. Light creates contrast and color, and how to use and plan them appropriately is entirely up to the photographer.

Composition is often referred to as design. To put it simply, it is a screen composition work that involves appropriately distributing and arranging the subjects in the finder to achieve harmony, balance, and formative order. The extent to which the viewer is moved is also determined by ‘composition’.

The frame refers to the photo itself. This is because the square frame that appears in the finder is the frame. Ultimately, a photo has to condense everything into that small frame. I think that’s why photography is more interesting because it has to include not only all the world’s landscapes but also our own lives within its frame.

1. Light, you must know light to understand photography.

There are various lights in the world.

In photography, light is often expressed as lighting, which means intentionally controlling and adjusting all the light in the world (including natural light as well as artificial light) used to take pictures.

In other words, it also refers to a series of actions that select the appropriate light to effectively describe and express the subject you want to photograph. To do so, everyone who takes photos must have a basic understanding of light.

2. Color in photography is a powerful means of expressing one’s emotions.

This is because you can contain your own emotions and feelings that are completely different from the colors of actual reality. Colors can be usefully used to express warmth, coldness, or dense black and white. The photos of Steve McCurry, a living documentary master, also exaggerate the color temperature to bring out the realism, and the vintage-style photos that are popular these days can also be seen as originating from that idea. The colors are imbued with a subtlety that stimulates people’s emotions.

In particular, contrast is very important in photography, and color contrast is expressed more intensely when strong complementary colors collide.

3. Learn the aesthetics of composition (design) and minus.

The golden section composition technique developed in art painting is still widely used in photography.

The stable composition makes the viewer feel familiar and comfortable. However, there are differences between painting and photography. If painting is a process of filling an empty space with the artist’s intention, then photography is a work that requires taking subjects from the world that already existed into a square frame called a finder. Most beginner photographers prefer wide-angle lenses with a wide angle of view. I try to capture everything, even meaningless things, in one photo. However, not only does there not exist a lens that can capture everything in the world, but photographs captured in such a way cannot convey any resonance of the world. You really have to take a lot of pictures, feel and realize how much one small thing can make the world cry. In the end, that is why the composition of a photo should always be negative. If painting is the aesthetics of filling, then photography is the aesthetics of subtraction in that sense.

In other words, it is a screen composition work that appropriately distributes and arranges the subjects in the finder to achieve harmony, balance, and formative order. The extent to which the viewer is moved is also determined by ‘composition’.

4. Frame, a frame within another frame that binds the gaze.

A frame is also called a rectangular frame that appears in the viewfinder of a camera, and is also called a frame created after cropping (or trimming). Nowadays, as digital cameras have become common, more emphasis is placed on the latter definition as frame processing has become much easier.

However, the existence of the frame does not end there. As we commonly call it, it is possible to create and capture various types of frames within a photo, that is, a frame within a frame. In this case, people’s attention, which is often scattered, can be focused inward. In this case, the shape of the frame goes beyond a simple square and exists in various forms.