By Levi Shand
What is the Baroque Diagonal?
The 1.5 grid is made of squares, rectangles and triangles. As there is so much to talk about here, we will only concern ourselves with the Baroque Diagonal. It begins in the bottom-left corner and rises to the top-right corner. As we read it from left to right, the eye rises up the frame. I imagine the Baroque Diagonal as either a happy song or as a question, like a genuine query. In a happy song, the listener is given information about why they ought to be happy, and as it ends they are left with a hopeful and light feeling. The essence of the sentiment is “lightness”. A genuine query is posed in hope of answer, and that sense of positive hope is what images composed using this particular line help to convey.
How do I use it?
To use the Baroque Diagonal, try to lead the viewer’s eye up and to the right. You may use any lines parallel to the Baroque Diagonal to achieve this “lightness” effect. Sounds difficult, right? While it is difficult to get started, a good deal of practice will help you internalize both the grid and the diagonal in question. The message here is not that either should be used at the exclusion of other methods of visual composition, it’s that both make useful tools in the belt of any street photographer.
Examples, or what to look for:
- shadows rising from left to right
- raised arms
- looking direction (sight-line) of a subject
- triangular situation of subjects or elements
- a subject’s jumping trajectory
- Tip: begin with architecture or nature, for practice, and continue on to animals and human subjects.
- Tip: have a look at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work to find plenty of examples of the Baroque Diagonal in practical use.
Some of my photographs as examples: