Week 5 Compositional Interpretation – Self Portraits / ‘Selfies’

Image 1: Self Portrait from Daniel Kuras

creative selfie 2


Daniel’s face is half submerged in water with his chin below the water line. Behind him a dramatic sunset reflects off the water. Daniel’s face is one of the only areas in focus.


The colour palette is one of the strongest elements of this image and is the provider for the dramatic appearance which keeps viewers looking at the image. The palette is beautifully soft with pinks, oranges, yellows with some contrasting dark purple.

The background is high value with the colours there appearing much brighter than the same colours in the foreground / on the water. Around the edges of the image the colours are a much lower value and relatively dark, contrasting the higher value colours and moving focus towards the middle of the image where his face is presented. These colours are also very highly saturated and intense which is where a lot of the drama in this image is derived from.

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The lighting is the other strong element in this image which makes the composition so strong. With natural light from the sunset behind Daniel, there are dramatic shadows inflected on the water – making the eye lead towards the face with the lines of the water. The lighting on his face is relatively soft – not nearly as intense as the light behind him but it is enough to see his features and expression.

Spatial Organisation:

creative selfie 2 composition


dans focus area

The horizon line sits at the water level, just underneath his eye level. His face sits centre in the image with him looking directly into the camera, making him the focal point of the image as the attention of the viewer remains on him. The image is slightly blurred at the front and in the skyline, again pointing the focus towards his face.


Due to the colour and lighting, the image is very personable with a relaxed and soft atmosphere – almost surreal and fantasy like.


Image 2: Self Portrait from Kirill Oreshkin

russian selfie



Kirill stands precariously upon a highrise star structure, several storeys above the groundl. His selfie uses a wide angle lense positioned from above and pointing towards the ground.


The colours in this image are highly saturated with a ‘cool’ tone. The buildings seem to have a light, bluish tinge along with the golden glows from the lights. There is no distinctive colour palette for this image as the colours shown are varied and the image is busy. The image varies from a high value to low value, but with a larger proportion of high value colours. The high value is largely on his face and skyline and the low values on the objects far away on the ground.


The lighting in this image is soft and natural which indicates he took this at dusk or sunset with less intense sun. There is artificial light shown in the buildings on the ground as well as in the lamps, but this artificial light does not effect the light on himself and is simply seen in the distance as a part of the composition. The soft light from the sunset falls on his face and emphasises it.

Spatial Organisation:

russian selfie composition

The image has an intense perspective and is very different to many other self portraits. The horizon line is seen in the top left corner, curved by the lense used for the photo. Perspective lines lead the eye down the structure he is standing on and towards the ground with the vanishing point being deep under the building. It is mainly the curve of the lense which leads the eye back to the centre of the image, with the chaos of the streets and buildings below not making clear lines.

Kirill himself is the focus of the image and is on a slight lean towards the structure, making himself appear in-line with the perspective and causing the viewers to follow the lines of the structure up his body to his face. The lines of his arm at the top right of the image also lead the viewers eyes down to his face as the focal point. His right arm behind him holding onto the structure also connects him to the perspective lines of the structure and creating an implied triangle.


The atmosphere of the image is adventurous, out of the norm and crazy.


Comparison Between the Two Images

These two images have stark differences in their styles, with Daniel’s clearly having more pre-production planning compared to Kirill’s which is more ‘of the moment’. In saying that, each of these images then has a completely different atmosphere which is directly related to the use of light, colour and composition angle. Daniels has a distinct colour palette compared to Kirill’s ‘urban jungle’ colour pallette (if you could call it that). This difference makes Daniel’s more powerful in terms of colour as they are related harmoniously and not busy/ hard to interpret. The lighting in Daniel’s is also used to his advantage more than Kirill’s with the intense natural lighting behind him bringing out the colours in the sunset to become more vibrant. Kirill’s composition is what catches your eye and is a little more unusual than Daniel’s – giving it the upper hand. Daniels composition  is minimal with his face being the focus, compared to Kirill’s which emphasises his surroundings more than himself.


Relation to My Own Work

The techniques and decisions made in both of these images can be related to my own interests and developing my own photography skills. The use of colour and light in Daniel’s image is especially relevant as my main focus of photography is landscape, nature and sunsets. As I am constantly experimenting in that field, the perspective is particularly interesting with the water  (and himself) being largely in focus and reflecting the colours in the sky. This is an interesting concept to me as it inspires me to shoot sunsets in a different way by possibly using reflections or seeing how the colours from the sunset can effect landscapes and nature.

In regards to Kirill’s image, I particularly take note of the use of angle with his wide-angle lense. As I am investing in an ultra wide-angle lense soon I find his use of perspective interesting by pointing it at the ground from a high angle and creating a unique image with distorted angles.