This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Becoming better at photography by learning Graphic Design

Over the years, I've had many photographers take my Graphic Design classes. And when they've reached that level of understanding about the art of photography, they have stepped above the mere technical aspects of lenses, film, Photoshop tricks, etc. Many people can do this, but unfortunately many people can't.

Understanding Graphic Design is like understanding the fundamentals of any abstract art form. It starts with the positioning of objects in a visual field. Technically, it's called *juxtaposition* or *composition*, but it's really its own language, and if you try to put words to it, it just sounds ridiculous.

I had a painting teacher who taught us to work on our composition by turning our paintings upside-down. The idea was to look at the shapes, colors, etc., independently from the content. Whether it was a mountain, or a penguin, didn't matter. What mattered was how all of it was composed together.

To be fair, you really can't separate the tools used in the creation of a piece of art from the way the final piece is seen. I have a lot of people who can talk about cameras, or Photoshop, or lots of technical stuff, whom I can tell have no understanding of, and no interest in, composition. It's kind of like Michelangelo's family, who were all expert carvers of marble, mostly for architectural uses. And that is the foundation. Without a knowledge of how to carve marble, Michelangelo could never have carved the Pieta. But he took it to that next level. And some people call that art. I call it composition, or design.

So, if you would like to take your photography to the next level, set aside learning more about the tools. Break away from people who only want to discuss the newest lenses, or a trick they learned in Photoshop. Sign up for a design class, or a painting class. Good composition can happen at random in photography, and it does, but the very best is not an accident. It's design.