Eye Contact

When the viewer looks at a picture of a living human or animal, the focus of their attention will be directed towards the eye. Eye contact from a diver as a subject, for instance, is an excellent tool in order to guide the viewer's eye to the main focal point or, if the diver is the main subject of the picture, to a secondary point of interest. If the diver is looking towards the camera lens with a blank stare, the image says very little other than 'I am a diver'. Even when the main feature of the shot may have been a wreck, reef or coral formation, the eye will always dominate.

fig. 7.28 This moody lit study of a naudibranc is composed with just the right amount of space between the right-hand side. Canon powershot A570 IS with close-up attachment, Inon Z2000 flashgun, f8 at 1/25oth sec, ISO 100. By Mark Koekemoer.

Use the eye of a diver to lead the viewer to the focal point of the picture. If possible, include the subject in the frame. Good communication between the photographer and model is important and necessary. When Sylvia is modelling, I may place her eyes on one of the 'thirds' intersections and the direction of her gaze will direct the viewer to the main focal point. It can be used just as effectively with fish and other marine creatures that have the appearance of eyes. The viewer will focus their attention on the eye of the fish and with careful composition the direction of the eye may lead the viewer to other parts of the frame. One thing to bear in mind is that the eye must be in sharp focus, whether it is a diver or a shrimp. If the eye is soft, the picture will fail.

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