Photography Composition: Learn 16 Actionable Tips to Nail it

Photography Composition

Composition in photography is as crucial as color, exposure, and contrast in photography. If your photography is properly exposed with perfect color and contrast balance but shows up with a poor composition, it can’t be dubbed as an excellent photograph.

An important aspect of photography is that it must pique the interest of viewers. And it will do so if all the elements of a photograph are positioned and laid out well in your camera frame. All the elements of your photograph should show up in such a way that the photograph narrates a story in the frame.

This hints at the fact that if you want to shoot cracking photography, only taking a camera and shooting as you fancy isn’t the right way to go. You must emphasize photography composition. Obviously, there are other factors that matter too in nailing your photography.

In this write-up, we will deal with photography composition and share with you 16 all-important composition tips that can take your photography to the next level. Just adhere to these guidelines to ace your photography.

Photography Composition- An Overview

Photography Composition Overview

Perhaps, you have already got a superficial idea about the photography composition. But let’s understand the concept holistically.

Simply put, photography composition is the arrangement of elements or objects in a photo frame while capturing so as to catch the attention of viewers. By complying with all the rules of photography composition, you will automatically hook viewers to the most interesting part of your photo.

The composition of a photo banks on a myriad of factors, including your position, angle of view, camera lens, and even how much your photo is in focus. If you want to stand out from your rivals and shift from a good photographer to a great photographer, composition should be one of your top priorities.

As a photographer, it’s your job to compose photography elements by thinking outside the box. You have to set up the objects within your frame, so it tells a story. But for that, you must keep certain factors in your mind and that’s what we will share now.

Photography Composition: 16 Crucial Tips to Follow

We have rounded up the top 16 actionable and easy-to-follow photography composition tips that you can implement in your photography. If you want to take your photography to the next level, go through them and put them into action —

Apply Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds in photography composition

Rule of thirds is a super salient photo composition rule which you should seek to apply before capturing your shots. For that, you have to split your camera screen into a grid. Bear in mind the key points of intersection and place pivotal elements along those lines for visual charm.

This composition works well for any photography genre including landscapes, travel, product, nature, model, still-life, and portrait photography.

Rule of thirds is a prominent photography composition technique and offers some magical formula for turning any shoddy composition into something visually aesthetic. In addition, If your camera gives you the option of overlaying a grid on your viewfinder, the first option is likely to be for the rule of thirds.

The image above shows a perfect composition with the application of the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds states drawing imaginary lines on your image — two vertical and two horizontal, equally spaced and dividing your frame into 9 boxes of equal sizes.

By taking advantage of the rule of thirds, newbie photographers can escape from the idea of always putting their subjects in the middle of the frame. This will also help them to get a better idea of how to bring out a balanced image.

Employ the Golden Ratio

Employ Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio differs from the rule of thirds by the balance of the photograph. In this technique, the focus of the photograph remains more towards the center with more details. The Golden Ratio ensures a perfect balance with a ratio of 1 to 1.618, and you can go for it to notch up a cracking photography composition.

Golden Ratio divides the frame into a sequence of squares that form a Golden Spiral as opposed to 9 equal rectangles. It’s also known as the Fibonacci Spiral, which resembles a shell. The spiral guides the viewer’s eye around the frame and displays how the scene should develop.

Try Golden Triangle

The golden triangle composition functions in a similar way to the rule of thirds. Instead of dividing your frame into rectangles, you have to divide the frame with a diagonal line going from one corner to another. Then, you have to add two more lines from the other corners to the diagonal line.

The shorter lines touching the larger middle line are the areas where the most interesting parts of your composition should be lined up.

Focus on Foreground and Background

Focus on Foreground and Background

Most photographers focus on the subject to compose their photos and they rightly do so. But that’s not the only part that matters in composition. Two more parts play a key role in photo composition — the foreground and background.

The elements in front of and behind your subject can either add to your composition or take away from it. Always take the background and foreground into consideration as you capture shots.

Injecting something in the foreground can draw viewers’ interest and give viewers a sense of a positive vibe. However, foregrounds can also be distracting, so you must be watchful about it. It’s crucial to make sure that everything in your photograph has a reason to exist there.

Backgrounds often get brushed aside, but they can be imperative to capturing an eye-pleasant photo. Oftentimes, the background in a catchy location offers a sense of place, adds charm, or creates a juxtaposition.

Other times, it’s simply distracting, and leveraging a shallow depth of field to blur it out or moving to another location may produce a stronger composition.

Don’t Override Eye Movement

Viewers while looking at an image move their eyes around it. So, you must keep it in mind before taking your shots. How will the viewer’s eye react to this shot? How will a person’s eye move around your photograph, top to bottom and left to right?

What we desire is for the eye to flow around the photograph, and ideally stay within the frame. If a viewer’s eye moves outside the frame, it means we’ve lost their attention from the image.

We can avail of a number of techniques to try and keep the viewer’s attention. But you need to ask the first question to ask yourself before taking a shot.

One crucial aspect to note is distractions. Are there any distractions that take away your attention from your main subject(s)? If so, think about ways to banish them from the image.

Do Think about Centering the Subject

Think about Centering the Subject

If you are someone picking up a camera for the first time are likely to place your main subject slam-bang in the center of the frame as it’s the definite thing to do.

Once we give our compositions more thought, we tend to skip centering our subject and kick off deploying other compositional techniques such as the rule of thirds outlined above.

However, centering the subject isn’t always the wrong thing to do. It can convey the weight of a certain subject, provide a sense of balance if there are other subjects or points of interest positioned around it, or might also bring out a feeling of symmetry.

Don’t Forget to Apply Symmetry

Talking about symmetry, the human eye loves finding patterns, and symmetry can be particularly pleasing like slotting in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

Apart from centering your subject, introducing a sense of symmetry to a scene can be one means to compose your photos. Dividing the frame vertically down the middle so that a pattern or shape is mirrored on either side.

Symmetry can be traced in nature too, perhaps with small imperfections, such as a leaf curving very slightly to one side at its tip.

Go for Frame within a Frame

Apart from planning how to frame your shots, you can consider the outside structures as natural frames too. These can incorporate things like windows, doors, or arches. So, make sure to cash in on them!

This composition in photography is basically called frame within the frame. What makes an image like this an interesting one is that it soothes and pacifies viewers’ eyes.

Important point to note is that frames don’t necessarily have to be man-made and entirely surround your subject. You can also leverage tree trunks and hanging tree branches for a frame within a frame photo composition tactic.

Don’t Ignore the Rule of Odds

Don’t Ignore Rule of Odds

In the realm of photography, there are certainly a bunch of ‘odds’ but the ‘rule of odds’ is something entirely different. The rule recommends that an image is more eye-catching provided there are an odd number of subjects.

The theory proposes that an even number of elements in a scene is distracting as the viewer is not certain on which one to focus his or her attention. An odd number of elements is viewed as more natural and visually appealing.

Emphasize Filling the Frame

In order to fill the frame, your subject should take up a significant portion of your image, leaving no or little space around it. In this way, the photographer irons out all distractions. Also, they let the viewer focus on the main subject and scrutinize every detail.

Get close and personal with your subjects. Fill them in the frame so that they become the focus and the dominant feature of the photograph.

Focus on Texture and Patterns

Texture and Patterns in photography composition

The one-of-a-kind facet of pattern or texture photos is that they never reflect a main subject matter. To produce a texture or pattern photo, make sure that you have a whole lot of objects that are visually identical and placed tightly together.

Apart from that, if you need more ideas on how to create texture and pattern shots, you can try a large brick wall, sand at a beach, a field of flowers of the same species and color, or a sky full of rippling or wavy clouds.

Stress on Color Combinations

Stress on Color Combinations

The use of color is overlooked to be considered as a compositional tool. Color theory is a concept that graphic designers, fashion designers, and interior designers are very well-familiar with. Certain color combinations complement each other superbly and can be visually stunning.

Colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel are said to be ‘complimentary colors. As photographers, you can seek to capture scenes that incorporate complementary colors as a way of producing appealing and magnificent compositions.

Emphasize High and Low Angle Photos

Did you know that about 90% of all photographs are captured at eye-level? But it’s not a bad idea to be among the interesting 10% and try high and low angle photography. Your photos will stand out from the crowd simply because you took time to alter your position.

For high angle photos, you can try snapping downward from bridges or windows. For low angle photos, get right down on the sidewalk and shoot a perspective that people hardly view.

Suggested ArticlePhotography Angles.

Simplicity and Minimalism Yield Stunning Results

Simplicity itself can be a robust compositional tool as it’s often said that ‘less is more’. In simple terms, simplicity means shooting photos with simple and smooth backgrounds that don’t distract from the main subject.

You can also bring out a simple composition by zooming in on part of your subject and focusing on a specific detail.

Rule of Space Matters

The rule of space is concerned with the direction the subject(s) in your photo are facing or moving towards. For example, when taking a photo of a moving aircraft, leave more space in the frame in front of the car than behind it.

This indicates that there is space in the frame for the car to move into within the picture. Likewise, if you are capturing a runner, you should keep more space in front than behind him to let him move within the picture.

Put Emphasis on Juxtaposition

Put Emphasis on Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is a very sturdy compositional tool in photography. Juxtaposition implies the incorporation of two or more elements in a scene that are contrasting to each other. It also means placing two or more elements that complement each other.

Both approaches can operate very well. And they play an important part in enabling a photo to narrate a story, thereby showing up as a well-composed photo.

Over to You…

Photography can be your passion, profession, or both at the same time. You would always want your photography to stand out from others. You would always feel a sense of delight and satisfaction if viewers express “wow” after spotting your photos.

And if you are a professional photographer, besides getting people’s compliments, you have to satisfy your clients. And that can’t happen unless you focus on photography composition. A well-composed photo has the magic to reflect the charm, draw viewers in, and also sell.