Photography Composition Basics

Photography Composition Basics

One of the biggest mistakes I see among hobbyist or amateur photographers is their lack of knowledge regarding composition when creating a photograph.

What is Composition?

Composition is the visual structure imposed on an artistic expression that invoices the arrangement and selection of visual elements in a pre-determined space.  A  better definition may be that composition helps the photographer to tell a story through a photograph. Through composition you entice the viewer emotionally and visually into your artistic vision. Through the effective use of composition, you can show the viewer of the image through your eyes.

“Tools or Design Principles” of composition:

Frequently, you will hear people talk about the “rules of composition.”  However,  in reality, there are no rules.  Instead,  there are tools or design principles that you can  use to assist you in using composition effectively to create a image that represents your vision.

The first “rule” regarding composition is “Do not be so literal”. For example, if you are looking at a scene with a big tree you need to use your creativity in looking at the scene in an abstract manner. For example, look at the colors, play of light on the leaves, the shapes, patterns, the shadows, etc.  It is the same when you look at clouds and see shapes of animals in the clouds.  You are not looking at the clouds literally when you see objects instead of clouds.

“Shapes” of composition:

Shapes like curves or an “S” shape can lead the eye through a photograph or to the main subject.   Triangles are also good shapes that can bring interest in a photograph.  Your eye follows lines or triangles in a photograph.  Triangles in particular can create a vanishing point if a tip of the triangle is toward the back of the photograph.

“Leading the eye” through composition:

Lines can lead the eye to a particular part of the photograph or bring the eye into a photograph.  The addition of light vs absence of light or bright vs dark can add further interest or help lead the eye into the scene.

“Shooting Through” as a tool of composition:

To add increased creativity and interest to a photograph, shoot through an opening to capture the main subject in sharp focus.  For example, photograph a bride and groom through an opening in the leaves of a tree.  The leaves will be out of focus so the will be blurry but the bride and groom will be in sharp focus.

The video that is attached below reviews this information plus provides more detailed information about composition.

Cynthia McIntyre Photography is a professional headshot  photographer with portrait studios in CT, NY and Tampa FL. For more info visit her main website or CALL 813-369-5545