The Academy 2017/2018: Figure and Ground (November)

The Academy 2017/2018: Figure and Ground (November)

Dance Couple © Knut Skjærven.

One of the basics of visual communication, of which photography and street photography is a tiny part, is the ability to separate figure from ground. And vice versa.

The November Challenge is just about that.

The task is to capture and post one or more street photographs in which you are in no doubt about what  is what.

Do your homework first. Search the internet and read more about the figure & ground till you get the grasp of it.

When you have done so, and we are in the month of November, go out and capture a few fine images that you want to show the rest of the wondering world.

Be ready to take and make comments from other participants. That is part of the deal being a member of The Academy. defines figure-ground like thisa property of perception in which there is a tendency to see parts of visual field as solid, well-defined objects standing out against a less distinct background.

Here is what you should do:

1. Identify the figure and the ground in the photograph you see above (Dance Couple).
2. Study some of your own street photographs related to the figure – ground phenomenon.
3. Move out in to the real world and capture some really clever examples of the November Challenge.
4. Make this as clear as Occam would have wanted it. 

One thing more: Make sure that the ground is utterly supportive to the figure. And vice versa. You don’t want conflicting or confusing messages in your photographs. 

Good luck with it :-).

Best regards

October 22, 2017.
Link to work site:

About author

Knut Skjærven

Knut Skjærven is a Norwegian photographer, writer and researcher working out of Copenhagen, Denmark.