Composition in photography refers to the arrangement of the various elements in a photograph. These elements can include the subject of the photo, lines and shapes, textures, colors, and patterns. Composition allows you to create photographs that are appealing to viewers and that convey your message in an effective way. If you want to take your skills to the next level, read on as we look at how composition can help you to achieve your photographic goals and create images that people can’t help but love!
If you’re just starting out with photography, you may be unsure of the best ways to compose your photos, and it can feel like there are endless rules to try to follow. Luckily, photography composition really boils down to just a few simple guidelines that you can learn easily and quickly. In fact, some of the most successful photographers in history have been known to break many of these rules (like Henri Cartier-Bresson). However, by learning what they are and why they exist in the first place, you’ll have a solid base on which to build your own photography style.
The power of balance
When it comes to the arts, the principles of balance can make all the difference. Balance exists when two opposing elements are equal, and these opposing balances are found throughout both art and life. In artistic compositions, for example, any two contrasting colors – such as black and white – work together to create a sense of equilibrium and harmony within an artwork. The way these colors interact with one another creates a natural balance that forces viewers to look at different aspects of the image; this engagement fosters an emotionally charged experience for the observer.
__Composition also refers to how images are framed within a frame or piece of artwork. When balanced well, traditional compositions can cause viewers to unconsciously associate positive feelings with what they see before them. An artist’s goal is to find something about the composition that will connect with an audience on a deep level, which may have nothing to do with meaning or message. Without balance, this deep connection cannot be made.
The rule of thirds
Composition means how a person places elements within a frame. The rule of thirds is an extremely helpful, easy to remember guideline that will improve your compositions every time. It splits the frame into nine parts: four quadrants and one center point. Placing your subject along the dividing lines or at any of the four points creates dynamic images. For example, you can place your subject’s eyes at one of the intersection points to have their gaze look out at the viewer. A great way to test this is by holding up your camera and moving it around until you find the position where it feels most comfortable. You should be able to make out where these intersections are without looking through the viewfinder. Experiment with placing your subject at these points for some fresh perspectives. Using diagonals: If a photo lacks compositional interest, use diagonals to add life to it. Use them sparingly though as they can become overwhelming if used too often. Diagonals create tension which attracts the eye towards the intersecting point of two opposing lines (the apex). Horizontal diagonals (lines) usually lead from left-to-right while vertical diagonals (lines) usually lead from top-to-bottom.
Composition dictates what the viewer looks at. There are many different factors that go into this, but one of the most commonly overlooked and yet most powerful techniques for achieving a compelling and interesting image is using leading lines. Composition is not just about framing your subjects and filling up the frame with their faces. It’s also about creating balance, interest, telling a story or evoking emotion. Leading lines work to do these things all by adding drama, tension or excitement to an otherwise flat scene. Lines can lead your eye straight through the photo to take in more details or lead you out of the frame so that you feel as if you are viewing it from afar. Lines can be dynamic, static, soft or hard. Think about using negative space-dark areas-to highlight something specific like a person on a dark street, or try shooting from below someone walking down stairs to make them look dramatic. These are all ways that you can incorporate leading lines into your compositions for better shots every time!
Depth of field
One of the first things that people often learn about when starting to learn how to shoot a photo is depth of field, which refers to the area within the frame of an image that will be in focus. A shallow depth of field typically means that only objects closest to you will be clear and everything else will appear blurry. A deep depth of field would mean that everything in your picture is sharp and clear. Depth of field can be used creatively by photographers by drawing attention away from one area by blurring other parts of the photo or bringing objects up close and personal within your frame. You might want to use this technique if there are distracting elements in the background of your subject but it also creates distance between two subjects, say two friends looking at each other from opposite sides of a lake.
Frames within frames
Framing within a frame can be used to highlight your subject, create a secondary narrative, or simplify the scene. Imagine you are photographing a forest. The shape of the tree trunks and other trees could easily draw your eye and take up too much visual space on the page if they were just printed as they would be seen by the camera. If you include some foreground rocks and lead your eye back to the area of interest through them, you may have greater impact on your viewer because there is more depth and contrast to draw their attention as well as foreground interest to keep it. An additional framing element such as this might also provide a means for an alternative angle which brings about new ways of seeing what we already know. Read more for these type of blogs.