I asked my friend recently what she would like to know about photography. She is your typical 20 something, Instagramming, textaholic girl born of the “selfie” generation. She asked “How do you make a photo “more interesting”? Do I frame the subject or have some things focused while other things are in the distance?. Us non photographers don’t know how to do that!” So I said Ohh, you mean composition? Her response was “What the hell is that? haha…” So I have decided to write today’s blog for Caitlin and anyone else out there that wants to make their photos “more interesting.” By having great composition, it really showcases what you are photographing and composition is one the most important rules in photography. But first of all…
What is composition?
Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements. Composing an image simply means arranging the elements within your photograph in a way that’s pleasing to the eye and draws the viewer into the image. The human eye tends to prefer images that have a sense of order and rejects images that are chaotic. In photography its not what you shoot that counts but the way in which you shoot it!
How do you compose an image that stands out from the rest?
There are a lot of rules in the photography world regarding composition and if you tried to apply all of them to one photograph, it would probably look ridiculous. I’m going to give you my top 3 rules that I try to stick to but don’t feel like you have to remember them all. You want to keep the spontaneity of what you are shooting first. Just practice each one separately and over time they will all become second nature to you.
1. Fill the Frame
The first rule I ever remembered when I was learning photography was this one. Fill the Frame. I still use it today because it works! Leaving to much empty space in a scene is one of the most widespread compositional mistakes. Try it out for yourself. Take a photo of an object like an apple or something from a normal distance, then take one close up so that its filling the frame and see which one looks better. This especially applies to photos of people too! Close up photos show so much more detail of a persons face and is a much more interesting and appealing look than taking a shot of them far away. Filling the frame makes the subject larger and cuts down on clutter in the frame which results in less distraction. It also draws the viewer’s eye straight to the subject. You can see in the photo below that I have zoomed in a fair bit with this shot because I wanted it to to be all about the trees and where that road was leading. If I had stood back at the gates there would have been all sorts of distractions like the paddock and house to the left and it would have taken away from the amazing line of trees. By cutting those things out and filling the frame, the composition is much more interesting.
2. Avoid the Middle
One of the main rules of composition is called The Rule of Thirds. This is achieved by splitting the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically and placing your subject in one of those imaginary lines or intersections. I find this a bit old school though and prefer to place subjects just off of centre or “avoiding the middle”. Beginner photographers tend to put subjects directly in the middle of the shot which can sometimes look a bit boring so try placing your subject just to the left or the right of your image. Notice in the image below, I have placed my subject in the right hand third of the frame to give a different point of view.
3. Leading Lines
Leading lines have the effect of drawing you into an image to a certain focal point. They create a visual narrative in the composition. They also give a strong sense of perspective and a three dimensional effect. In the image below the strong lines of the jetty lead your eye right into the middle of the image.
Of course you have to decide which rule applies to the image that your trying to convey but hopefully these three tips will get you well on your way to taking “more interesting” pictures in no time!
Have you enjoyed this content? Are there any rules that you always employ in your photographic adventures? I would love to know, so leave a comment below! 🙂 Happy Snapping.