Friendly Critique #3: Vintage Signs

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For our friendly critique #3 we have selected a photograph taken by Rupert Mitch, in which we see a combination of vintage signs and various objects found in a flea market. Taken during the winter season, the scene benefits from nice and soft light. The colourful vintage signs are a definite highlight here and immediately attract the viewer’s attention. The rest of the image is full of details, and offer a lot for the eye to explore.

Vintage Signs, by Rupert Mitch
Vintage Signs, by Rupert Mitch

Points to consider next time:

While looking at this photo, a question pops: what is this image about? Given the many bright elements, it is difficult to identify one main subject or combination of subjects - what should the viewer look at? The colourful signs are fighting for the viewer’s attention among the other elements and make it difficult to concentrate on any of them.

  • Although snow gives us an idea of the season, in this photo it appears as an overexposed element that pulls the eyes down the image with no real benefit. If the image is about the vintage signs, melting snow and bare trees in the background do not add much to this scene and become a distraction.
  • When the image is full of details, one way to organise it is to decide which ones will constitute the key elements for the composition and then exclude the rest. One solution for this photo can be found in focusing on three main signs with the repeating red colour (STOP sign, American Breakblok and Trailways) by cropping the image into a square format. This removes some distracting elements, such as other signs, the overexposed snow and the trees. The cropped image benefits from a stronger and more dynamic triangular composition which helps organise the image and puts the emphasis on its main subjects.
BTP version of Vintage Signs, by Rupert Mitch
BTP version of Vintage Signs, by Rupert Mitch

Overall, this composition of colourful vintage signs and objects is definitely interesting to explore and the challenge is to find a composition that brings out the main subjects. Flea markets are a treat to a photographer’s eye and provide endless photo opportunities, as well as some great composition exercises! With some patience, patterns, repetitions and shapes emerge, making the final images stronger.

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About the Author

Nadia Gric

Nadia Gric

Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography.