What Makes A Photo Work?

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Where Do You Want Me To Look?

The original image as submitted

Our Anonymous Photographer has done the right thing with the framing. The trees and sky have been carefully cropped out and the reflection positioned centrally within the frame, with the small subject in the middle - so full marks for having an idea and carrying it through. And I don't have a problem with the central composition - I think it is needed in this situation.

I am thinking the photographer wants me to look at the small child through the archway. The main challenge is the bright brickwork and light reflections that surround the archway - I look at them rather than the child - and then when my eye does go through the archway, the high contrast in the centre of the image is difficult to resolve.

So, my first suggestion in this high contrast scene is to reduce the contrast. You can do this in a number of ways, but the contrast slider in Lightroom or ACR is all you need:

I think this helps in the background, but the surrounding archway and reflections are still too light. What happens if we darken these down, so they lead the eye into the background and our subject?

Now I might have made the overall image darker than the photographer wants, but I think you will agree that the eye now goes more easily to our subject in the background. But that subject is quite small? But I also like the space around the archway... Maybe a horizontal crop?

When you have reflections, you don't always need all of the reflection to make it work. I'm not sure if this is a better crop or not, but if my objective were to ensure my viewers interacted with the child in the distance, I think this solution works a little better. Am I right?

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