In this series, we present a look-book of authentic photographs collected by the writers and editors here at Envato Tuts+. We hope these pictures inspire new ideas, help kindle projects, and give you a better understanding of visual communication.
A Closer Look at This Image
Food pictures are everywhere today. We see so many it can be easy to overlook a great food picture. So, it takes a particularly well-thought-out image to grab our attention. I think this photograph—one of powerful contradictions and combinations—is one of them.
The first thing that hits you is the use of colour.
The cool blue background and green basil leaves make the natural red of the peppers pop (our eyes see blue as a "receding" colours, which makes it look as if blue areas pulling away from us slightly. We see red as if it is "advancing", or coming toward us slightly. Mix these two colour effects together and it creates a nice pop, as here).
If the peppers had been directly on the blue wood, the picture might have looked very ‘busy’ or perhaps there’d have been too much contrast. Putting the neutral wooden board between the two is a clever way to break up the colours, whilst making sure focus is on the peppers.
Suggestive, Tactile Textures
The wood is so natural and gnarled, it’s a fantastic texture. Again, it’s a lovely contrast to the shiny smoothness of the peppers. For me, this is about the suggestion of taste and texture together—you can imagine how biting the pepper would feel, you can almost hear the squeak of it against your teeth. Contrarily, the spoon full of flakes would crunch. I think either would soon set your mouth on fire! That suggested hotness though, is reflected in the colours and then cooled nicely with the leaves and blue wood.
Why aren’t the subjects in the middle of the frame? Images that have off-centre subjects tend to appeal to us more (you can learn more about composition here), but this image does have three items straight down the middle, so why does it still work?
Despite the sprig, garlic bulb and pepper in the middle, there’s no doubt that the main focus of the composition is the board of peppers. This comes back to the clever use of the neutral board—not only is it breaking up those colours and keeping them slightly apart, but it’s also framing the main subject, helping to drag your eye to it and away from those central pieces.
It begs the question why include the
central pieces at all? Looking at the geometry of the composition, I think without them there wouldd be too much empty space. The positioning of them on the horizontal lines of the background works
well. In terms of meaning, adding basil and garlic does change how we read this image. It becomes a picture about related ingredients, highly suggestive of cooking. A picture of peppers alone would not have the same strong visual association or meaning.
Reading a Photograph
We'd love to hear your take on this photograph, and if you're not sure where to begin, then How to Read a Photograph will get you started with how to analyse photography. Mostly, it's just saying what you see and how you feel about an image!