Commission 06: Lining Up

Lining Up. © Knut Skjærven.

Lining Up. © Knut Skjærven.

For many years I was active  in the advertising business. On both sides of the table. I even educated people in the industry, once again, from both sides of the table. In structuring efficient messaging.

Believe  it or not.

In advertising you have what is called page traffic. It is what happens when people browse through a magazine or a newspaper. As an advertiser you need to stop them along the way to get attention for your expensively paid message. Today, media might be somewhat  different but the basics are the same. You need to secure the attention and the interest of your viewer/reader.

Once you have managed to stop them your need to structure the visual/verbal message in a way that is understandable in the split second you have the attention of your potential customer. You have to make them interested.

You need also to make sure that the main message of your ad is connected to you as an advertiser. You don’t want to spend money to promote the competition. To do this, which is no easy task, you have to structure the visuals of the ad in such a way that it connects your message to you as the advertiser. Often through a logo or a style.

One way of doing this is to work with focal points. A focal point is that visual point in your message, of text and picture, that the attention are drawn to and naturally want to settle on.

You can work with lines to direct your viewer to your focal point. That is one of more ways to get the viewer where you want to have him.

Look at the photograph above. The lines used to guide the reading of the picture are pretty obvious. They go from the low part of the image towards the top of the image. Interrupted by  the saxophone player on the way. He become the focal point. As as advertiser, that is where you would want to place your main message. You selling point. At least you have a starting point from where to guide him/her further on.

Is this of use in photography? Even in street photography? Yes it is. It is definitely something that you need to be aware of as I am sure that you already are. Good things, however,  cannot be repeated to often. That is the reason for this new commission.

This is what you should do if you want to play along with the music: Go on out there and take a picture that honours these criteria: a) a strong line flow ending up in b) ONE distinctive focal point with c) no conflicting visual information to destabilize that focal point. You are welcome to work with d) supportive information like  the people right hand in the photograph above. But then you need to direct them too.

In other words you need to pay attention to four things: a) lines; b) focal point; c) conflicting information; and d) possible supportive information.

When you have boxed at least two such pictures, you load them to your own site on the internet and link to them in comments to this post. For all to see and comment on. For all to enjoy.

Now get out there :-).

Good luck with it.


December 4, 2012.



  1. #1 by achergui on December 4, 2012 - 12:04 pm

    • #2 by Knut Skjaerven on December 4, 2012 - 12:15 pm

      Not much related to Lining Up :-). Actually you are a bit ahead of me with your first example. AND you need to shoot anew and not come up with old stuff :-).

  2. #3 by achergui on December 4, 2012 - 1:02 pm

    Thanks for the feedback 🙂 I’ll do shoot new ones. And try to stick rigorously to Lining up as described 🙂

    • #4 by Knut Skjaerven on December 4, 2012 - 1:25 pm

      I think it is about time you enrolled properly :-).

  3. #5 by Knut Skjaerven on December 4, 2012 - 1:39 pm

    Here is another one that fits the description, me thinks.

    What do you think?

  4. #6 by achergui on December 4, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    I had your last link in mind in fact before you posted it. Ok, then I think I got it !

    I am almost enrolled since I follow every post and think about it even when I shoot. I could not finish my ‘vision’ yet, so I am not totally ready to enroll officially 🙂 But I like very much what you are building so solidly 🙂

    • #7 by Knut Skjaerven on December 4, 2012 - 2:36 pm

      Thanks. I am honoured. It guess Rome was not built in one day either. What is the problem with you having to write your vision? Write down your dream. That is what a vision is :-).

  5. #8 by elisam75 on December 7, 2012 - 8:14 am

    This talks to me :-)!!! And what a beautiful shot! Love both of them!
    I took those 2 shots that I think could work for this; Not as beautiful as sax playing embodiment with water but… eager to know what you think of them.
    up & down
    Have a good day!

    • #9 by Knut Skjaerven on December 7, 2012 - 9:42 am

      The idea, Elisabeth, was to take new shots :-).

      In the first one you have a strong line and no focal point since you pass it. I have an even harder time finding the focal point in the second.

  6. #10 by elisam75 on December 8, 2012 - 7:24 am

    Thanks so much for your feedbacks! That will help me! Those shots are only weeks old :-)!!! I’ll try to find new opprtunities and make better ones!
    Have a good day!

  7. #11 by elisam75 on December 8, 2012 - 7:25 am

    I meant 2 weeks

    • #12 by Knut Skjaerven on December 8, 2012 - 2:56 pm

      Well, it is more of a question that you cannot target a briefing before it has been given, can you? :-)).

      Here is it: “This is what you should do if you want to play along with the music: Go on out there and take a picture that honours these criteria: a) a strong line flow ending up in b) ONE distinctive focal point with c) no conflicting visual information to destabilize that focal point. You are welcome to work with d) supportive information like the people right hand in the photograph above. But then you need to direct them too.”

  8. #13 by Elisabeth on December 12, 2012 - 6:17 am

    Hi Knut,
    Here are 2 new tries. Would you consider them as potentially working?
    On the way out - 1
    On the way out - 2
    The second one has a man in foreground but i like it :-).
    Have a good day,

    • #14 by Knut Skjaerven on December 12, 2012 - 11:06 am

      Hi there.

      Thanks. Sorry I am late.

      First example: good lines obviously, but I lack a clear and SINGLE focal point. You have a good focal AREA, though.

      Second example: ditto comment, but the black figure in the foreground disturbs me a bit. I spend too much energy on it.

      Try to establish a focal point more than a focal area :-). Yes, I am annoying I know, but just wait till we moved The Henri in :-).


  9. #15 by Elisabeth on December 13, 2012 - 7:46 am

    Thanks for your answer Knut,
    You’re right I was focusing to much on the area :-).
    I will try again :-)!
    Have a good day,

  10. #16 by elisam75 on December 13, 2012 - 9:08 am

    hi Knut, Yes I get email notifications if I don’t forget to chack the box :-)! Cheers, Elisabeth

  11. #18 by Elisabeth on December 13, 2012 - 8:25 pm

    Hi Knut,
    Here’s the today’s crop for this commission :-)!
    Up to!
    I hope it works better, crossing fingers ;-)!

    • #19 by Knut Skjaerven on December 15, 2012 - 9:20 am

      Can I ask: What is intended to be your focal point?

      • #20 by Knut Skjaerven on December 16, 2012 - 8:58 pm

        Good try, but I am not quite convinced :-).

        With focal point, I mean a point where your attention quite naturally linger and from where you were you can let more of the story unfold, if that is what you desire :-).

        In this image I see a man mounting a staircase. I swiftly pass him and want to know what is going on at the top of the stairs where the lines direct me.

        What do I find there?

  12. #21 by Elisabeth on December 15, 2012 - 5:26 pm

    Hummm!!! I thought it was the man… Waited for ages to get only one man in those stairs :-). i thought I got lucky for he had lines on his jacket also repeating the lines on the stairs and the ramps. But, you’re right, i chose the location before the man.
    But your right on the one the man was more my focus than than the location
    Trouble was that my framing was not as good as the other one; Probably because i was defintly focused on the guy ;-). And I couldn’t avoid people on top of the stairs…
    You’re right i probably focused to much on the stairs on the first one but then how to balance the framing & lines and a lonesome target focus. Really tough for me for most of the time there are plenty people passing by and need to be quick to capture …
    I need to try harder :-).
    Many thanks for your feedback,

    • #22 by Knut Skjaerven on December 16, 2012 - 9:01 pm

      And what is your focal point in this shot :-)? If I humbly may ask this Sunday :-).

  13. #23 by Elisabeth on December 17, 2012 - 6:24 am

    The stairs are leading to a church 🙂 and some other buildings…

    • #24 by Knut Skjaerven on December 17, 2012 - 9:28 am

      There will be another post on this soon. That will explain some more. There needs to be a certain attraction at the end of the road :-). It is like BEING without NOTHINGNESS (cryptic, I know) :-).

      • #25 by elisam75 on December 25, 2012 - 6:25 pm

        Hi Knut,
        Here’s another try for the lining up for this commission!
        I had the opportunity yesterday and had all what you told me in mind! The main thing beeing be careful about avoiding NOTHINGNESS. So here the lines are leading to the woods. I hope that would be better than my previous tries.
        Quietly waiting
        Have a wonderful evening.

  14. #26 by elisam75 on December 19, 2012 - 7:15 pm

    Thank you so much for your advise! You’re right as always. There is always something missing in my shots! It was impossible to capture the churh without digging the ground :-). I will try to keep that in mind now! I will go through the lining down commision now :-)!

  15. #27 by elisam75 on January 5, 2013 - 12:06 pm

    Hi Knut,
    Here i’m back again on the lining up commission :-)!
    I think i got your nothinness point in mind now so here is a new try :
    Is that any better?
    Have a great week-end,

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