Understanding the basic rules of composition can immediately transform your images. With that said, I do not think you have to be a composition expert or master all composition techniques to be a great photographer. Knowing a few and being able to keep them in mind while you take photos will be all you need. There are hundreds of different things we could go over when discussing composition, but in this post you will learn some foundational composition tips that will be easy to apply to your everyday photography. These composition tips will give you quick results I think you will love.
What is composition
Composition is the way in which a whole or mixture is made up. A work of art.
When we talk about composition in photography we are talking about all the parts of the image and how they come together to make up the whole image.
Composition creates feelings
When you look at an image and are drawn in or feel an emotion just from viewing it, this is likely due to its composition. Images that lack a good composition are often 2 dimensional and flat. When you look through your lens and quickly snap a photo you will likely end up with a so-so photo. Instead, thinking through the image for a moment and applying one of the composition techniques we will talk about below will give you an image worth printing and hanging on your wall. Even an ordinary moment can turn into an extraordinary photo with the right composition.
Move or adjust slightly
Often, the only thing standing between you and the perfect composition for your photograph is your location. Moving or adjusting yourself just slightly can give you an entirely different image. As we talk through the composition techniques below, think about some of your favorite photos you’ve taken and decide if there is any way you could have moved just a tad to get a different composition. Once you are familiar with and comfortable with these techniques you will start to position and reposition yourself automatically.
Photography composition tips everyone should know:
Photography Composition Tip #1: Use Lines
Most photographers think of railroad tracks, fences, and roads when they hear this composition technique. However, there are so many other lines in your everyday life that can really enhance your photos. This could be something as simple as a countertop, angles of the walls in a room, a log, a slide or other playground equipment. Everywhere you are you can find lines that you can use to draw your viewers eyes right to your subject. Sometimes lines can be distracting too. Make sure the line you are using brings the attention right to your subject rather than away from your subject. Also, if you use too many lines in one photo, your viewer will be confused and your image will lose its power.
Photography Composition Tip #2: Rule of thirds
This is one you have most likely heard about. Even as little kids we were taught rule of thirds in art class because it is a good composition technique for many art forms. Rule of thirds is the idea that your image is separated with three vertical lines and three horizontal lines. All with even spaces in between. Place your focal point is on one of the points where two lines intersect, not right in the middle. This creates depth and interest in your photograph. The photo above and below are both examples of using the rule of thirds. This is a composition rule that I use in almost every single image.
Photography Composition Tip #3: Fill the frame
Film the frame is a composition technique where you do exactly what it sounds like, fill the frame. Place your subject so part of the subject goes off the edge of your frame in at least two sides. Think about the whole picture and make sure everything in the frame is what you want in your image. You may also have lines or other background elements that go off the edges to fill the whole frame. The idea is to think about the whole picture and fill it with elements that enhance your photograph.
Photography Composition Tip #4: Framing
Framing is the composition technique of framing your subject. You can do this in a variety of ways. You could use a window or doorway as a physical frame. You can use branches or other natural elements to frame your subject. You can also purposely add something to the foreground that you shoot through to create a frame for your subject. This could be something like peeking through a doorway and leaving part of the door in the image, standing behind some foliage and shooting an image through the leaves. When you try this last technique, focus in your subject and allow the foreground element to remain a bit blurry so your subject stands out in the image. Framing is a great way to get your viewers eyes to look right where you want as well as add some dimension and interest to your photo.
Being able to apply these composition tips to your photographs can dramatically enhance each image. Look for ways to practice each of the techniques above. The more you are aware of how you compose your images, the more natural it will become. There are no hard and fast rules here. Take these composition tips and apply them in a way that makes sense for you. Have fun with it and continue challenging yourself as you take photos. Once you have these down, continue looking at other photographs and learning about new composition rules that can help you create the photos you want.
What to do now:
Choose one of these photography composition tips to start with and try to compose your photos different than you normally would. Each time you look at a scene, imagine how you could use that composition technique. Do this until you feel confident with each one. You can pin this article for later by clicking the Pinterest icon on the side. My goal for you is that you have fun with photography and make it a part of your every day. Tag me on Instagram (@athomewithkidsblog) and show me your favorite photos.
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