A PHOTO IN GOOD HANDS
The elements that make for better image structure
If SewerBall has roiled your delicate senses, then here?s a topic that is likely to soothe your aesthetic judgment: hands in photos. Or arms in photos. Either way, I?ve asked a lot of my readers over the last year. Since SewerBall crash landed on the blogosphere, my readers have had to stomach some bizarre tales. Those who have made the journey with me from the beginning and actually read all these blog postings have had to crawl through more doo-doo than Tim Robbins in the pipe when he spilt Shawshank. So to make good, I have chosen to write about an uplifting topic, one loftier than toe fungus and intended to elevate the soul while bringing out nothing but good vibes. I hope you?ll take it in with open arms.
One of the things I?ve picked up on over the years while rummaging through thousands upon thousands of photos is that it?s commonplace to stumble across a running theme and, when a motif catches my eye, I have taken to grouping these photos together. It can be interesting to observe a certain pattern depicted in photos but actually rendered, from one photo to the next, in its own distinct way, depending on the vagaries of the situation.
That said, in our quest for a more perfect picture, it?s time we examine some photos where the dominant element is the hands and arms. Yes, hands and arms. They can be beautiful or unsightly, well toned or flabby. People have them; snakes do not. These outgrowths give us the power to express ourselves, most notably to channel euphoria through gestures not possible using our lower extremities. It is a critical element for conveying jubilation through non-verbal means. Hands down, the act of raising one?s arms and extending them skyward denotes the purest form of unadulterated human joy and bestows a transfer of inner energy outwards.
Uplifted arms do more than punch up the gestalt of the picture but make it more poignant. The picture of a player celebrating his moment of glory can be seen as overly boilerplate stuff, if not bland at times, but when a teammate or a fan can appear in the background rejoicing with both arms in the air, then we are in business because we now have a picture with that added element. The more emotion that comes across in the picture, the more evocative that it becomes.
The picture cannot be considered grand unless it can provide that extra layer of pep. In many cases, this can be realized through the goings-on of the background dimension. Through the picture we see that not only has the athlete himself attained his goal, but the fans too share in his moment of glory with their own expression of exuberance. Just how much this extra something enriches the image is hard to gauge, but we know it can be substantial. Take, for instance, the slow trot around the bases by a baseball player who has just hit a home run. His trip around the bases reveals very little in terms of sheer emotion because his expressions are mostly muted ? even though he has accomplished something of note ? until you spot that fan in the background with both arms raised and clearly delighting in the occasion, perhaps more so than the player.
When the scene is infused with a much-needed attribute as this, it renders a more complete visual depiction. As a photographer, especially in sports when plays happen fast, I would like to pretend that the dual composition of a player making a big play combined with a fan?s/teammate?s reaction in the background was planned, but if I did, I would be giving myself way too much credit. The truth is that these background pieces happen quite accidentally so it?s not a bad idea to stay alert, as the photographer, and shoot through the play.
The both-arms-raised gesture may historically have worshipping overtones, but the sportsman is likely just letting loose and erupting with a combination of relief and euphoria. Raising both arms is far from a trend or the latest fad ? it not only has universal meaning but has withstood many fashion trends and many attempted alternative expressions of joy, which were short-lived, having as much staying power as Pepsi Clear.
Garden-variety arms-raised photos abound. Most games have at least a moment of rip-roaring celebration, but the ones that really stand out are the ones that offer that extra something. With the right set of circumstances trending your way and making their way into the frame, an ordinary photo suddenly becomes a very pleasing and memorable vignette. So look carefully, especially when you?re rushing to get those photos out on deadline, and do not turn a blind eye to the backgrounds because you might just be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
In addition to background reactions complementing the main act in the foreground, one of the cooler discoveries you can make from time to time as your eyeballs traverse the heaps of photos on your screen is the occasional patterns that can form. This happens when players? body parts fall into a distinctive visual configuration and are positioned just right, thus making for an intriguing arrangement. The visual bonafides can be impeccable ! The combination of arms, for example, can be spontaneously arranged in a way where three different players? arms can be parallel to each other and evenly separated giving the image a welcome shot in the arm.
Norman Rockwell lithos these are not, but they do deliver their own uniquely redoubtable qualities to the image?s overall visual appeal. There can be many different things in a photo if only we bothered to notice. Therefore, it is not enough to merely exist. You must perceive ! And this is one way that SewerBall rolls. You can spend a long time wading through various blogs and photo galleries before you get to one that has gone to the trouble of fishing for such esoteric features, but that?s just one reason why SewerBall is here.