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When rhythm tells the story.

One of the most useful ways to organize pictures is to link key elements together through rhythmic repetition. Such repetition brings both coherence and meaning to any photograph.

Take, for example, this picture of an employee studying the screen of a computer. I've seen hundreds of pictures of similar subjects. Most fail to communicate because the body language of the employee is not rhythmically linked to the form or position of the computer.

In this case, Donna Jernigan, a Charlotte, N.C. free-lance photojournalist, waits for the employee to lower her head to the level of the screen. To do so comfortably, she rests her head in her hands. When the low position of the woman echoes the low position of the screen, the rhythms send a message to the viewer -- the nature of the work at hand is intense.

On the same assignment, Jernigan moves in to shoot over the shoulders of a couple seeking information from an employee of the client company. The customers lean in toward the employee, creating a frame which draws the eye of the viewer to the point of the picture. The position of the employee's paired hands rhythmically repeats the position of the customers, paired bodies. Her expression tells us that she has apparently posed a question and now awaits their decision.

In both shots, Jernigan creates relationships through rhythmic repetition, drawing key elements within each photograph together to tell the story.

Phil Douglis, ABC, is director of the Douglis Visual Workshops and a widely known photographic consultant and critic. Send him tear sheets to be considered for possible use in his column. Send to Phil Douglis, 76 Ridge Rock Road, Sedona, AZ, 86336.
COPYRIGHT 1992 International Association of Business Communicators
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Title Annotation:Photocritique
Author:Douglis, Philip N.
Publication:Communication World
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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