This images is a wonderful example of “Eye Candy.” People love this image not only because it’s good design, but also because the composition engages the mind of the viewer on an instinctive level.

Our vision has two basic components: the mechanical and the cognitive.

The mechanical component is the eye. The eye is designed to detect contrast, contrast can be created by luminance value, or with color. If you give the eye contrasts to detect it will be attracted to the area of greatest contrast reflexively.

The cognitive element of our vision is designed to identify patterns and our attention is reflexively drawn to anomalies within those patterns.

Through strategic use of contrast, color and pattern we can direct the eye to follow a predictable path through the image.

  • In this image the area of greatest contrast is the black stools against the white cabinetry, the red upholstery helps accentuate the contrast. This is the entrance point of the image.
  • The pattern of the cabinetry and the flaw in that pattern created by the counter, fruit basket and back splash draws the eye up from the bottom of the frame.
  • The contrast of the range hood draws the eye across the frame to the left where the bright window attracts the eye.
  • Then the form of the cabinets helps lead the eye down to where the bright color & contrast of the fruit bowls against the reflection of the window catches the eye and leads it down to the lower portion of the image where the red upholstery and high contrast of the stools catches the eye and starts the cycle all over.
  • The light fixture is positioned to prevent the eye from following the strong line of the soffit and crown molding out of the frame and refocus attention on the vertical pattern of the cabinet. The leafy greens are serving the same function, they prevent the eye from following the line of the counter out of the frame.

That is an example of how to lead the eye through an image by engaging both the mechanical and cognitive aspects of human vision through careful camera positioning, and use of contrast, color, luminosity and pattern.

This flowing motion involves the viewer with the image by engaging the reflexive mechanical function of the eye and the cognitive function of the visual cortex on a subconscious level. This engagement, this involvement causes the image to be consciously perceived as being active and full of life which is ultimately appealing to the human psyche and leaves a positive impression of the image upon the viewer.

When you’re composing your images look at them and ask what do I see? Where is my eye being directed? Does your eye jump around the frame in an unstructured manner? Or does the image have a coherent flow that engages, intrigues and delights the eye?

Using these compositional rules will help you create images that are well composed and will make a good impression upon the people who view your portfolio. Applying these guides effectively takes practice, but using them will give you better pictures whether you’re shooting a room yourself or working with a photographer.


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