This Week’s Photo – Wrestlers Through the Painted Gate – Raghu Rai

This week’s photo is by an Indian contemporary photographer, Raghu Rai.

I think there are few key compositional tools at play in this photograph.

The first one, and perhaps the most obvious one is the division of the frame, in roughly the thirds as shown in the sketch below. This allows the action in the middle of the frame to be isolated from rest of the scene, allowing the eye to go straight to the action instead of wandering around the frame looking for something to focus on. Framing the image is a great compositional tool, perhaps one that I underutilize a lot myself.

Division of the frame.

Division of the frame.

The second element at play is the leading lines on the doors. This is a very simple, but a powerful element. Like the framing, these leading lines too lead the eye from the edge of the frame towards the center – again, where the action is taking place.

Leading lines

Leading lines

The third element at play is the moment. If you look at other images taken by Raghu Rai at this location, they are all great, but none captures the moment and the expression of the wrestlers as well as this one.

Another element at play is the color – and particularly the contrast between the cool blue of the door against the warm, yellow, presumably evening sunlight in the akhara (Akhara definition: (in India ) a gymnasium – a place of practice of Indian martial arts)

And finally, the repetitive elements – if you looking at the scant clothing worn by the main two wrestlers – the colors of the clothing matches the ones on the door, giving the image a great visual echo.

I’ve found this image to be one of the easiest to write about – there are so many elements at play here – and most of them very obvious.

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