A Look At Lines & Shapes In Photos

November 23, 2009

While I was searching some Ali’s photos to celebrate his 50th Anniversary on the world stage, I came across a blog about lines and shapes in photos. Victor Navone talks about “posing” as it combines elements of other principles from The 12 Principles of Animation within it, such as staging, appeal, exaggeration, and solid drawing. But consider this: still images can suggest motion. And a good animator could animate an entire acting scene within a single clear pose. For example on this photo as the action has been frozen for eternity, Muhammad Ali doges a left hook by his opponent.

The lines of action are so clear, so extreme in this photo, that it almost feels staged or manipulated. You can feel Ali’s lean back onto his right leg, and your brain wants to see the invisible arc of that left hook coming around. Look at the way the other boxer’s body leans into Ali with a simple curve, while Ali’s main line of action is a strong, straight line. The convergence of these two lines at the boxers’ feet creates visual tension, and Ali’s supporting right leg makes his silhouette huge and grounded. Check out this article from Carlos Baena for more about lines.
More examples about lines & shapes in photos with Muhammad Ali.


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