This is what I have tried:

enter image description here

Have used a vintage watch to depict old times, extremely dry leaves, and somewhat fresh flowers.

Intention was to show increasing age with time.

I have kept watch out of focus so that it doesn't seem that this is an advertisement of watch.
Some people have complained that it is looking as if I want to show off the watch.

How to improve the composition of this scene with watch, flowers, and leaves such that it depicts time's effect on age?

This was the original setup for your reference:

enter image description here

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Fossil". heh. nice tie-in with the concept of age. (Although, I wouldn't consider Fossil be vintage watches) \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 14:09

5 Answers 5


Your metaphor is okay but here are a few observations.

Pictorially, in our culture, time flows from left to right in the same direction as we read. Similarly, it flows from the background into the foreground. Upper-left is "older" than lower-right. Using such cultural cues, you can show time flowing or ebbing to suit the story.

Mixing new with old breaks the flow. It becomes a still-life composition. We compare the objects chosen for the arrangement.

Sharp focus determines our point of interest. By focussing on the watch, it becomes the "product." If it were in the background it would become an accessory. Obscuring objects diminishes their dominance. The presence of a watch suggests "hours" and "minutes." A pendulum clock suggests "weeks" and "days."

For some reason depending on the source, twenty minutes past eight o'clock is a popular arrangement for analog time-piece "hands."


In my opinion the composition is "too posed"

It is set on an environment where you would not see a watch and you would not see a plant.

Think on how a real night table would be, how some real flower arrangement would be, and how it would decay.

Then imagine you find that, which was already worth of photographing, but now you have a nice composition that looks old.

Edited... Well this could be a matter of style, but here I go.

1) Watch your framing. I do not like the square format you have. How about this. (Get rid of the distracting leaf)

2) Play with the light! Use some snoots! Give some personality to the background with the light. Give the photo a mood.

3) How about an interesting background? This gives context

I think you are too focused on the concept (a watch and dry flowers) and you are not seeing the full picture. Subject+Light+Framing+background+mood.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Put it somewhere, but in my opinion that place is too distracting for the concept "time", it is more about "nature". \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 3:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheIndependentAquarius The thing with composition is that there's a lot of room for personal preferences. I'm not sure I agree with Rafael on everything but he does present some good points (+1); maybe you are too focused on the concept and are having a hard time deviating from it. I'd recommend you try out everything people suggest. In the end you're still free to decide if you like the results or not. Who knows, maybe trying different shots makes you figure out that way you really wanted it to look like, \$\endgroup\$
    – Roflo
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 15:00

Possible signs of age: Patina, rust, dust, spider webs, brushed off paint on edges, scratches... Making the photograph black and white, sepia toned and with shallow depth of field mimicking old large format cameras might also help adding some impression of age.


How about adding a substantial amount of dust to the face of the watch?

This would be similar to making it out of focus to help deemphasize it as the subject (a product photo wouldn't be dirty), but also makes the watch look older, and show it has participating in the passage of time.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ get a vintage watch instead? \$\endgroup\$
    – Max
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or an hourglass! \$\endgroup\$
    – rrauenza
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheIndependentAquarius I agree with Max and rrauenza. I think the photo looks like it's about a watch and not time because the watch is modern looking and shiny. Find an old clock, or find a cheap vintage-looking clock and dirty it up a bit. I think that would go a long way to conveying what you're trying to convey. \$\endgroup\$
    – Era
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 15:16

If you are looking to make the leaves look old then i think they need to be darker. I think the lighting should focus on the watch and the leaves a darker point. Brightness makes things look more "alive" if you will. So the leaves, although dead, look very much alive to me.

Dying Leaves

Here's an example of what i mean. These leaves look very much dead because of the black spots, the brown tone, and there dark color.

Autumn Leaves

These leaves on the other hand are equally dead but feel much more alive because of the brightness and highlights of the photo.


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