Three Reasons this Photograph Works

In November of 2012, I took this simple snapshot on a whim. It wasn’t planned and I didn’t spend any time composing the shot.  I just wanted to capture the red of the flower.  Despite the knowledge I have gained about photography since then, and despite the rich tapestry of native orchids, lilies, trees and wildlife I have photographed since then, this image still draws my attention. While the lighting could easily be improved with a little editing, I have left it as I took it for this post because I want to discuss the reasons it works.

The Rule of Thirds

One way photographers can compose an interesting photograph is to divide the frame into three vertical columns and three horizontal rows with imaginary lines.  If the subject of the image falls onto one of the four points where the imaginary lines intersect, the image will be much stronger.  In the image of the red daisies, the two daisies are both placed on an intersection point.

Point of Interest and Use of Negative Space

The two daisies which form the focal point are on the left, drawing the eye to a specific region of the frame.  The negative space on the right hand side is filled with weeds, forming a pattern of leaves which adds interest, but which does not dominate.  My eye moves from the top daisy, to the bottom daisy, and then to the sunlit weed on the right side of the photograph.  These three points form a triangle which holds attention.  I don’t notice much outside this triangular space.

Use of Complementary Colours

While purely incidental in this case, red and green are complementary colours which are placed opposite each other on the colour wheel.  This means they work well together  enabling good contrast and balance.

Any one of these three framing techniques can strengthen a photograph.  I think I am lucky that these three techniques work well together and don’t fight each other for the viewers attention.  Analysing this photograph has inspired me to see if I can get this combination of techniques to work in a planned shot.  Stay tuned for the outcome.


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