Many amateur photographers seem to think that photo composition techniques are something to be done intuitively, and that sharp sense of composition is something we are born with. I have to agree to some extend – some people have it easier than others. Anyway, composing images is nothing you can’t learn or improve. This article comes in to suggest you several ways of composing your image better and in a more innovative way.
1. Back to the basics of photo composition techniques – the golden rule of thirds
This simply has to be the first point in all articles focused on photo composition. It’s the mother of all composition rules after all. So what’s up with the thirds? It’s quite simple. All you need to do is divide the frame into 9 equal rectangles, 3 across and 3 down. Some cameras can even display the grid as a built-in feature, check if yours can do it for you.
You need to have the most important element of the picture – no matter if it’s a sweet kitten, your baby, or a Gothic cathedral – along one or more of the lines or where the lines intersect. Believe me; this will look way better than placing the photographed object right in the middle, which seems to be the most common basic mistake among beginners in the photography world.
2. Think of your leading lines and natural frames
The way we look at things is conditioned by biology. If we know how our eyes work, we can influence the way people will look at our picture. The first basic thing to remember is that human’s eye is naturally drawn to lines and following them. Playing with natural lines in your capture will help lead the audience into the documented scene. The other thing nature sometimes offers you are natural frames, like windows, plants or naturally existing holes. They can be a lot of fun to play with, and I guarantee you that these composition techniques will make your image look way more intriguing if you frame it nicely.
3. Don’t be afraid of cropping
Sometimes a photo doesn’t make the best impression, because the main object is lost in the background noise of its surroundings. There is a simple composition technique that fixes this issue in an instant. Cropping allows us to perfect our photo composition that wasn’t ideal at the first sight. It’s also a tool that lets us implement some other techniques mentioned in this text in the editing process. That’s good news – it means that even if an image isn’t composed perfectly at the moment when we take it, there is still hope it might become a masterpiece. A simple cropping tool works wonders.
4. Don’t forget the depth
Not everything in the photo can be cropped or fixed in the editing process. One of these things is depth, which we have to somehow show in a two-dimensional medium. The easiest way to achieve this goal is including objects in the foreground (in front of the actual main object), middle ground and/or background. You can also partially cover one object with another to make things more interesting. The human eye naturally recognizes these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth.
5. Think of the frame not the object
A photographer can’t only focus on the main object to take an interesting image. We need to think of a capture as a frame, with a well-composed background. There is no one effective rule when it comes to empty space. Some situations could use negative space (sky, wall, anything), in other context a fully-filled frame works way better (portraits are usually the case, as well as wildlife photography). My money is on your intuition here – just try to think visually. While we have many, many composition rules, we don’t need to learn them by heart. They are rather guidelines, strategies. Playing is allowed.
6. What about the symmetry?
I know, this might sound like something going totally against the Mother of All Composition Rules aka the Rule of Thirds. In some cases, though, centered, symmetrical composition is literally the best way to go. If you spot natural symmetry, just use it. It’s usually very photogenic, especially when it comes to shooting architecture or certain types of landscape.
7. Use natural patterns to improve photo composition techniques
There is one more thing to say about landscape and architecture photography when it comes to our today’s favorite – photo composition. Natural patterns are a catchy way to attract the audience to spend more time looking at our picture. Doesn’t matter if they are manmade (like, for example, cobblestones) or natural (like, for example trees or flowers), it’s enough if they are regular. The patterns are a visually attractive way to lead the viewer’s sight to the main object, which is why it’s usually beneficial, if the pattern is incorporated into the lower half of the image. Again, this is only a suggestion, not an iron rule.
8. Play with your point of view
Somewhat naturally we tend to take most of our images from eye level. That might sometimes be a little limiting, especially if we care for an innovative photo composition. Sometimes we need to get a bit up or slightly down to take our composition game to the next level. This is crucial when we are taking pictures of something iconic that has been photographed zillions of times by many great photographers, like for example Taj Mahal or Eiffel Tower. This might sometimes be a little challenging, but, believe me, it’s worth it. We don’t need shots that have been taken before by someone else’s lenses, right?
I hope you will find these 8 composition techniques creative and helpful. I really hope you will have a chance to use them very, very soon. Of course there is way more strategies that could potentially be covered in this article. What are yours? Do you have any tips you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comment sections, and remember that sharing is caring!