Many years ago and before being utterly possessed by photographism, I was working as a plasterer regularly sub-contracting to a local builder with a number of regular customers. One such customer was Paul, a successful local photographer who at that time had a popular retro-photography business in Whitby, North Yorkshire. An infinitely interesting and interested character whose excellent work was tastefully placed around his and his wife Lynn's home.
Looking back, my instinctive response to Paul's work was indicative of things to come and whenever time permitted, Paul was always kind enough to indulge my curiosity. Lesson one, I recall was: "Depth of field" with pencils strategically placed across the dining room table. Should you read this Paul: (i) Thanks for the intro (ii) Your work complimented my walls perfectly ...ahem.
Some years later, at the beginning of my own quest and starting with landscapes, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at other photographers' work observing exactly what I wanted my images to look like. Frustratingly, I would go on to lose count of how many times I would find a scene that looked great to the eye, compose it carefully, focus and expose with precision ...only to find the image was pretty objectionable when I got home.
Beautiful vista + Correct settings = Horrid mess?
I expect most photographers will have experienced this and many will have overcome more quickly than I - oddly, it was the multiple failures that assisted me far more than the successes and I eventually recognised the simple unfortunate truth: not everything that looks good to the eye makes for a good image and that under the umbrella of composition - all images require an element of visual order.
Where angels fear to tread.
so back to Paul...
The truth is of course that Paul's photography 'drew the eye' far more than my walls and rightly so. Nothing wrong with my plastering - I doubt we would still be friends otherwise, but for me the first of many lessons about visual order can be explained in the following observation: Had the walls been anything but smooth, Paul's images would still have been excellent but the walls would have presented an ugly distraction. So as a basic premise on 'visual order' it's my view that it is almost as important to consider what you don't want in your image as what you do.
The list of potentially unwanted distractions in an image are of course limitless but also subjective, they might not necessarily be objects either; bright areas with lost detail often referred to as 'blown highlights' can be horribly distracting, but looking for distractions and giving proper consideration to both the wanted and the unwanted is one of several key factors that allow you the photographer to guide the viewer's eye over your image.
Order is a subject that I intend to cover in greater detail at some point, but in the interim, with his years of experience Paul Anthony Wilson is very good at putting visual order into his work. Using light, depth of field, texture, shape etc you will have little difficulty knowing exactly what you are meant to be looking at or what his images are about.
My endorsement of Paul's work is based on the photography content. All opinions are his own.
Thanks for reading.