Photo Critique – The Musician

by Al Hannigan on July 22, 2006

This photo critique shows how lighting and composition work together to produce a simple and yet powerful image.

The importance of controlled lighting and careful composition is well demonstrated in this image of a musician by photographer Dariusz Sas.
The Musician
Here the light not only calls your attention to the subject’s face, but it also works to create a mood that enhances his expression.

As you view this photo note how expertly the light is directed onto the face. Also note how the features on the hat and sleeves are subdued, yet give just enough detail to keep the blacks from being lost entirely.

And the controlled light on the background helps to outline the hat as well as adding a wonderful depth to the image.

Following down from the face we see the horn clutched closely to his chest. Note that in spite of the intensity of the light on his face, the horn and hand are subdued so as not to detract from the main point of focus.

The composition shows the classic rule of thirds here with the placement of the subject’s face. The diagonals created by the face, horn and arm add a sort of drama and motion to this image.

The diagonals also draw your eye down to the horn then the hand. The slight curve of the highlight on the sleeves tend to circle your eye back from the bottom of the picture.

I might like to see a bit more of this curved shadowing in the large black area on the right of this image … a diagonal that picked up the line of the collar and the highlight on the background might help guide the eye back from that black void.

I love the simplicity of the composition and it stirs a lot of speculation in me. Is the musician huddled from the chill of night air? Or is he moving through the empty night street clutching his horn for comfort?

It may not be any of those things, but that is what makes this image so successful … it stirs your imagination.

All in all, this is a timeless photograph that is well executed … an excellent example of photo art.

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1 Paul Darcy July 24, 2006 at 12:39 pm

I like how the light sort of halos around his face and hat – looks kind of airbrushed in afterwards and if not it was masterfully set up.

Wonder how long the artist had to hold that pose for?

Maybe this was one of a hundred or more shots snapped?

2 Nat September 25, 2006 at 10:08 am

Al, this covers a rule that I learned from your other site…try to tell a story or stir the veiwer’s imagination. I find this is especially true when shooting people.

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