- His face is familiar. Whether the face is of a friend, family member, or a celebrity, just being familiar will draw our attention whether we like the person or not.
- He appears engaged and his action is incomplete. Viewers wonder Who is he pointing to? What comes next?
- His attention is off-frame. We are unconsciously drawn to a photo where the subject is showing interest in something not visible to us.
- The photo has bright, rich colors. We are attracted to both, even if they are of dyed, combed-over hair, or just the background.
These principles were mentioned in a recent Wall Street Journal article about new computer programs that detect this automatically. Any photographer can apply these fundamentals (and we are all photographers now).
Sure beats everyone lined up, looking in the camera, and saying, “Cheese!”