Composition in photography refers to the thoughtful arrangement of subjects and elements within a frame to create a harmonious or even striking photograph. A photograph with proper composition can evoke emotions and capture the viewer’s attention. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced photographer, learning composition techniques is an ongoing process of practice and experimentation. In this written course, I’ll talk about five key tips that can greatly improve your compositional skills.
Utilizing the rule of thirds
This is probably the most classic rule of composition, it’s the first rule almost all photographers learn and unfortunately the first rule they forget. It is particularly useful in helping photographers to place their subjects harmoniously, creating beautiful photographs. It is no coincidence that painters have been using it for centuries with amazing results.
Divide your frame into nine equal sections using two vertical and two horizontal lines. Place the main subject of your photo in one of the four sections or along the lines ( horizontal subjects e.g. horizon on one of the horizontal lines and vertical subjects e.g. people trees etc. on the vertical lines ). This technique will help a lot in achieving balance and will add interest to your photo.
If you are photographing a landscape, place the horizon line along the bottom horizontal line, especially if the sky is interesting ( e.g. dramatic clouds ) and if there is a tree or person in the scene, place them on one of the vertical lines on the left or right.
Use lines as a composition element
Look for lines in the location you are photographing so you can use them to guide the viewer’s eye to the main subject or through your entire frame. Lines can be straight or curved, such as roads, paths or rivers. Plus don’t forget that you can use them to create depth and perspective.
In a street photograph, use lines to guide the viewer’s attention from the foreground to a subject that is far away, creating a sense of depth as well as distance.
Also if you are photographing a landscape, place the horizon line along the bottom horizontal line, especially if the sky is interesting ( e.g. dramatic clouds ) and if there is a tree or person in the scene, place them on one of the vertical lines on the left or right.
Balancing the Elements in a photo using correct placement
Ensure that the elements in your photo are balanced. This doesn’t always mean that everything has to be symmetrical, but rather that the subjects and elements within the frame complement each other to create a harmonious composition.
In a portrait photo, if the subject is positioned on the left side of the frame, balance the photo by including an interesting background element or detail on the right side.
Use the Frame within Frame technique
Look for natural or man-made frames within your scene to enclose your subject. This could be anything from archways and doorframes to branches and windows. Framing helps to isolate your subject and draw focus to it.
If you are photographing a person in a garden, use an overhanging tree branch to create a frame around your subject, guiding the viewer’s eyes directly to them.
Use simple scenes and Minimalism
Don’t overcrowd your frame with too many subjects or elements. Simplify the scene to include only what is necessary to convey your intended message or story. Pay attention to the background and ensure it doesn’t distract from your main subject.
In a flower photography scene, instead of capturing an entire field of flowers, focus on a single flower and use a wide aperture to blur the background, ensuring the viewer’s attention stays on the main subject.
Improving the composition in your photos is a crucial step towards creating more engaging and impactful images. By applying the Rule of Thirds, utilizing leading lines, framing your subject, balancing the elements, and simplifying the scene, you can transform your photos from ordinary to extraordinary.
Remember, these rules are guidelines, and sometimes breaking them can lead to unique and captivating results.
Keep practicing, stay creative, and watch as your compositions evolve and improve over time.