The Elegant Solution

In my photography classes I emphasize the “Keep It Simple” guideline. This guideline comes from many different sources, but I relate it to science, which is my background, and another guideline which is called “The Elegant Solution”. The Elegant Solution is what most researchers strive for. It is the maximum desired effect or explanation for a given phenomenon achieved with the smallest or simplest effort or description. The word elegant implies fine quality, refinement and simplicity.

How does this apply to photography? In composition, primarily, reducing the elements to the simplest arrangement and number creates an uncluttered image, allowing the viewer to easily identify subject, subject matter, meaning, intent, and the relationships among and between the elements shown.

Imagine yourself reading a book. It doesn’t matter what kind of book, technical manual or novel. You’re reading along, getting comfortable with the writing style of the author, taking in the information, letting your imagination meld with the text your brain is assimilating and processing. When photographers really get into the process of creating an image we get into what is called “The Zone”. Our senses and attention are tuned to our surroundings, our concentration is finely focused, our peripheral vision may become restricted and our hearing receptive only to what we’re photographing. We lose track of time and ignore people and other distractions around us. Good books cause this same effect in readers.

Then, all of a sudden, you come across a misspelled or missing word or a sentence that seems very much out of place. Photographers are interrupted by sharp sounds or physical contact or darkness. What happens? You’re jerked back to reality