Gondolier under Bridge, Venice, Italy, 2010

THE SUBJECT OF “Gondolier under Bridge” is not the gondolier himself; the subject is the experience of riding in a gondola, navigating the narrow waters of an extraordinary city. This is important because if meaning comes where subject, subject matter, and composition meet, then knowing what the subject is allows us to make the best choices about the subject matter and the composition. I bring that up because I want to talk about this photograph in terms of subject, subject matter, and composition and how the three intersect, but let’s look at it backwards—starting with the composition—which is the way everyone but the photographer himself must look at a photograph.

Compositionally, this is a horizontal ...

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