The importance of composition and exposure in photography

We’ve been taught that the viewer’s eye will be drawn to the brightest portion of an image … which promotes the need for an understanding of lighting, composition, and contrast. But what if you have an image that begs to be different … something that’s exactly the opposite. Will the image still direct the viewer’s attention as the photographer had intended?

The answer of course is yes, if the image is exposed properly and composed in such a manner to grab the viewer’s attention.

Chicago FD Squad 2 working from a Snorkel
The composition of this photo forces the viewer’s eye to the firefighters in the center of the frame. Larry Shapiro photo

In addition to the points I’ve mentioned above, this image works so well because of the haze in the background which softens the elements to such a degree that the firefighters in the bucket literally jump out of the scene.