ON STREET PHOTOGRAPHY and other life changing events


Two Spatial Systems / New Street Agenda


Rain Man © Knut Skjærven

Rain Man © Knut Skjærven

It is such an amazing feeling you get when an obscure, little idea gets an unexpected backing from a reliable source. It makes the work worth while.

Not long ago some of us participated in what was called The Academy. The Academy was, and still is, a closed Facebook group for focusing on, and training basic visual principles that are relevant to street photography.

I say, still is, since the group has only taken a break over summer to let all gather new energy.

The Academy held monthly challenges that all could participate in.

One of these challenges focused on finding a main visual figure and structure a supportive ground around it. Even if the wording was a little different, the idea was to establish a visual center.

A month or two after the challenge was very different. The idea was to shoot for what I called a spread. You make a spread when you place people of the same size and shape, well separated, over the total frame. Top to bottom. Left to right.

None of these concepts are difficult to grasp as ideas. From idea to execution there can sometimes be a long road. And in the challenges there were.

Why should this be particularly exiting, you may ask?

It turns out that figure and spread fits well as photographical executions of what Rudolf Arnheim calls the centric and the eccentric spatial systems. The first arrange things around a common center (figure). The second arrange things so that no place is distinguished (spread).

This gives us two new terms for the wordbook that accompanies New Street Agenda: the centric and the eccentric spatial system.

There is much more to it than this. What opens up is a road to visual composition that is quite new and highly potent and will do well for street photography.

That is what the amazement is all about.

More will come.

© Knut Skjærven


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