Shooting for the Stairs: Incorporating Staircases in Photography

home wood stairs

The Penrose Stair is one of the most famous impossible figures. Simply, the Penrose Stair is a set of steps that appear to be connected in an ever-ascending loop. The result is a figure that seems possible but is actually impossible in real life. The illusion is one of the most recognizable in the world, with a variant popularized by an EM Escher illustration. It also appeared in the 2010 science-fiction film “Inception.”

The power of an image to hold our attention is vital for recognition. People are more interested in images than words. Because of this, everyone is always looking for attention-grabbing photos, particularly for online audiences.

Staircases might give a photographer the eye-catching edge they need. Stairs that dwell in hypothetical thoughts and staircases in commercial establishments have the power to hold draw our attention.

Leading the Eye

The design of the staircase makes our eyes follow it. When looking at staircases, we often let it guide our gaze up or down. There is also a hint of mystery when it comes to where they lead. If you have ever craned your head up or down to see where a stairway leads or if there’s anyone else on it, you know what this means.

Photographers often use leading lines to draw the attention of the viewer to a particular detail. Stairs, by their nature, lead our feet and our eyes to a destination. A photographer can use staircases as their leading lines, either as background or as a subject.

Spirals and Curves

Another image that pulls our gaze is the spiral. Nature showcases the spiral through shells, sunflower seeds, antennae, and a whole plethora of biological wonders. The spiral is also a dynamic image, creating the feel of movement and depth. A spiral staircase highlights these things, which makes them interesting places to photograph.

Each curve of a spiral staircase makes an image seem deeper and more organic. They also tease what they could be hiding beyond their banisters. You can choose to make a spiral staircase intriguing or unsettling on photos.

Symbolic Steps

man climbing a stair

Staircases are loaded with symbolism, and you can evoke whichever one suits your photographic needs. You can use the height difference between the top of the stair and its bottom to emphasize a difference in power. The powerful control the heights and the downtrodden stay “downstairs.”

You can also symbolize a struggle or a challenge with the use of steps. People often use the phrase “coming up in the world” to say someone is succeeding in life, and steps can be the perfect visual companion for similar sentiments.

You can use the image of someone climbing up a stairway to indicate a form of enlightenment or some other metaphorical ascension. An image showing the opposite can indicate a dark descent, perhaps a significant loss or degradation.

Staircases are indispensable in architecture and design. And they can be powerful in photography and visual imagery. People have given stairs multiple meanings and used them in metaphors over the centuries. Their form gives them natural command over our attention. Let staircases give your shots a step up over other photographs.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on google
Google+
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn