Thursday, November 12, 2009

Symbolism in Composition

Besides the use of lines, perspective, color, etc. to achieve emotional impact in you image, one can use symbolism. For example, one that is commonly used is an empty chair or seat. I find that it can have a different impact depending on the surrounding context. I have included images that illustrate this. The first image from a mausoleum has a couple symbolic elements. For now we will focus on the empty bench. Here the bench helps convey the sense of loss – something/someone missing.

The second and third images present much more pleasant surroundings. I have found these images make the viewer wish they were sitting there and really draws the viewer into the image. Sometimes an empty bench may make the viewer feel loneliness.

Going back to the first image, let us analyze it a bit more:

  1. Empty seat symbolism – loss.
  2. Wilted roses – reinforces the idea of death.
  3. Color – the color in the roses grabs the viewer’s eye. The lack of color in the rest of the image again creates a sense of loss, subdues the mood, etc.
  4. Lines on the granite wall lead you from the roses back to the empty bench.
  5. Light - the brighter light on the bench highlights the empty bench and may five a sense of hope to some.

What are some other strong symbolic elements you have seen used? Note, that some symbols may have emotional ties for you but not others.