Candles, Notre Dame, Paris

A close up view of candles, featuring the Virgin Mary, inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

You'll agree this is a pretty straight forward picture. The image was made at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. The fact is we often want to photograph subject matter that is not overly complicated. How then do we make that subject matter into an interesting composition and embed into it a sense of mood or drama?

In the case of the picture above the candles were neatly positioned in rows on a stand inside the cathedral. The first thing I did was to move in and concentrate attention on an even smaller groups of candles. I then positioned my camera so that the pattern formed between the lines of candles was evident. The pattern is formed by the positioning of the candles and the spaces between them. The repletion of pattern within the greater scene was emphasized and a sense of symmetry revealed. Repetition and pattern are design elements that help make sense of images by brining a sense of order and cohesion to the composition.

I was careful to concentrate my framing and the camera's focus on a set of candles that seemed to burn particularly brightly. I emphasized this area by employing Adobe Lightroom to darken the surrounding candles and, thereby, further draw the eye in towards the centre of the frame.

So this image, while it utilizes candles within a religious setting, is really about order, cohesion and luminosity. At least from my point of view.

An alternative reading of this photo might suggest the sense of order and calm some people find within a structured religious organization. This was not my intention. Nevertheless, it does point to the power of art to influence the masses. Religion and advertising are masters in the area of influence. And both have used art to influence the masses.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru