Photo composition can be difficult to master given how many elements there are to consider when taking photos. It can be difficult to know where to begin as there are many photo composition rules which can be confusing, not only for budding photographers but sometimes even professionals.
Why is composition important in photography?
Composition in photography is important because how the elements are arranged impacts the overall look of the photo. The elements of composition in photography can vary depending on who you ask, but the seven basic elements of composition are line, shape, form, texture, colour, size, and depth.
In this post, we will look at some of the basic principles of composition in photography and some tips that will have you mastering photo composition in no time.
1. Rule of thirds
When it comes to photography composition for beginners, the rule of thirds is the place to start. The rule of thirds describes dividing your image into two vertical and two horizontal lines which are intersecting, thus breaking your image into nine equal squares. The viewer’s eyes are naturally drawn to the four points where the lines intersect, so your subject should usually be placed at these points. On cameras, you can use the gridlines setting to use the rule of thirds.
2. Use leading lines to your advantage
Another one of the well-known rules of composition in photography is the use of leading lines. Leading lines are lines that the photographer has strategically framed and positioned in the photo to draw the viewer’s eye towards a specific point of interest. The lines are supposed to draw the viewer’s eye towards a focal point in the image. Making use of the leading lines in your environment to direct the viewer’s eye is a great way to make an interesting composition, and you can use multiple lines to make your image all the more unique.
3. Use triangles
For this technique, you do not need to photograph actual triangles, but rather focal points in your image that when connected, form a triangle. The focal points in a triangular formation work in the same way as leading lines; it leads the viewer’s eye and creates a dynamic composition. It also has the nice effect of creating balance in the image too.
4. Use symmetry
Of course, not all photos will adhere to this, but capturing symmetry in your photos can make them very visually appealing. To use symmetry, you will be creating balance in your image. To do this, you will minimise contrast and your image will have to have balance in both halves of the image. This can be done by using symmetrical lines, or symmetrical size on both sides of the image, as well as balancing compositional elements like colours and shapes.
5. Use contrast
One way to make an image look more vibrant is to use contrast. Images that are monotone tend to look flat, but by using contrasting colours you can add more excitement to the image. Using light juxtaposed with shadow can create a sense of depth, and contrasting textures make an image more varied.
6. Place your subject in the centre
Although the rule of thirds is very helpful for creating interesting compositions, sometimes photos look best when the subject is in the centre of the frame. This composition looks good in particular when you are representing symmetry in your image, as placing your subject off-centre could be jarring. Centring your subject can also look good when taking portraits, or when you have a plain background behind your subject.
7. Crop closely
In certain photos, the background either does nothing to enhance the image or takes the attention away from the subject. In such images, particularly portraits, it can be useful to fill the frame with the subject by cropping tightly.
8. Make sure the subject is properly in the frame
Following on from the last point, while it can be beneficial to crop tightly, make sure your subject is properly within the frame and you are not cutting parts of them off. A perfectly good portrait can be compromised by hands or the top of the head cut out of the frame making the photo look awkward.
9. Try framing
Framing is a photo composition technique where you find frames in your environment to photograph, drawing attention to a certain area. This could be taking a photo through frames such as a window or a doorway, or frames found in nature, such as an arch in a rock formation. If you can find frames in nature, it’s a great way to make landscape photography more unique.
10. Use plain backgrounds
For those getting used to the art of photo composition, it’s advisable to begin with plain backgrounds in your photography. Busy backgrounds can be very distracting and take the focus away from your subject, so it is best to stick to plain backgrounds when learning photo composition. This is also a great tip for minimalist photography. You can also blur the background slightly to isolate your subject in the foreground.
We hope you found our 10 composition tips useful!
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