30 tips for perfect Photography Composition
Photographers aim to be better at their craft. What is photography composition? Learning photography composition techniques will help your photography. Composition rules are there to learn, but breaking it is more fun.
The best way to learn photography composition is to get out and practice. A solid knowledge, these composition tools will add significant importance to your everyday photography. This guide will help you start your journey and take better photographs
Understanding compositional techniques and what elements it's composed of is vital to achieving the result you want. You can decide if you're going to evoke desperation, sadness, harmony, or raise your viewers' eyebrows. By practicing these composition tips below, you'll learn to capture the moment you envisioned!
So what are the composition rules used in photography? The answer is: endless. It is whatever you desire to achieve when you take that shot. Of course, some basic photography composition rules we need to mention.
Ask yourself; what makes a photo great? Follow or not to follow composition rules?
Composition rules and tips
1. "Rule Of Third"
The rule of third is the first compositional rule you will come across and learn. I would say it is the simplest of all and the most effective. It is considered the basic principle photography rules of composition.
It helps the photographer to create a balanced, appealing photo.
A photograph with the rule of third composition the subject is placed at a specific point of the intersecting lines. How can you do this? you can create two horizontal and 2 vertical lines making 4 intersection points. visualizing, it might be a little complicated. most dslr cameras likely have a grid feature you can choose to activate that will appear in the viewfinder. The grid layout helps to divide the scene and find the right position for your subject.
TIP: Rule of Third
For portraits, place one or both of your subject's eye/eyes to the top third of the horizontal line. Try to level them, crop if you need to.
As for landscapes, place the horizon on one of the horizontal lines to create interest.
Move the slider to reveal the Grid. This image feels more interesting by placing the tower at one of the intersection points. It might not give you the same if the tower would in the middle of the frame.
Image By: Elton Sa
Placing the bicycle at the bottom of the intersecting lines add movement and a sense of direction to the image.
It is an effective way to show what is the focal point of this photo.
Visual weight also used as one of the photography composition techniques to help you to attract the viewer's eyes to the focal point.
Visual weight refers to a design element has varied weights like size, color, contrast, texture, tone, depth of field light and dark, symmetry, asymmetry, and text. The list goes on.
The most apparent visual weight element is size. The more massive the object, the more visual weight has. Also, large vs. small in a photo can add impact. and balance.
These two images would be hard to miss. Color on color has a great impact, even though they are perfectly matched. The creases on the fabric make the bowls of fruits stand out even more despite how close they are in color.
Image by: Erol Ahmed
TIP: Using Color
For landscapes use color as a contrast between to enhance distance within objects or background. Experiment with different background colors or use similar tones like above images.
3. Balance in a photograph using symmetry
Balance in the photo makes us feel comfortable. It affects you how you feel when you are looking at it.
The balance created many different ways. One of them is symmetry, also by playing with different sized objects. If they are close in weights, size the image feels more balanced.
The symmetrical vertical lines, arches of the pillars, and the visual value of the light and dark contrast helps your eyes to travel all the way to the far point of the photo.
TIP: Applying Balance
We can illustrate balance with symmetry where things are facing each other or in an opposing position. Look for lines in structures or similar objects in your surrounding. Search your surroundings in the city and landscapes for possible potential ways to use this compositional element.
One of the most practical angels is triangles, and they play an exciting role in photography composition. Three objects in an image make an equally visual weight but balanced at the same time. Triangles placed left to right up and down or reversed.
Nature's triangles. They all have a purpose. The left one pointing to the sun, the right one leading to the sky, and they also create a visual opening in the middle to direct your eyes to the distance toward the mountains.
TIP: Using Triangles
Placing a more substantial object next to a smaller one creates a natural triangle.
5. line of sight
This statement implies that you are following a person's line of sight. When we approach people, we try to have eye contact. During the conversation, if the person looks away naturally, we follow the direction of their eye to see what is there.
The line of a person's eye is a well-used composition tool to guide the viewer's eye to another element in the frame.
These two images don't really have a line of sight nor points to a particular point of interest, but it results in a feeling of uncertainty and unanswered question. Another compositional tool you can have in your arsenal.
Faces one of the strongest visual weight you can use in your photos. The viewer's eyes will naturally be drawn to the eyes of the person then follows the direction of the eyes in the photo.
TIP: Line of Sight
To avoid being too apparent, look for, or create lines in the most subtle ways you can find. In some cases, the viewer no need to see the eye of the subject may be a pointing finger will do.
6. Sole or single point
Simplifying your scene with one object in the frame is a common and most basic form of composition.
A single object can provide a dramatic interest to photograph. The subject is usually quite small compared to the rest of the image. We might also call this space as white space.
Placing the subject to the middle of the frame might feel balanced. On the other hand, if you move around and create a triangle effect pointing toward the intersection one of the rule of third point, the photograph will be much more dynamic and exciting. Do you see how these composition rules, compositional techniques combine, and work well together?
TIP: Single Out Your Subject
Move around. Get above or below your subject. You will get a more interesting shot.
7. Simple Background
The times when you want to isolate your subject, try to eliminate distractions in the background. It is common practice to use a zoom lens to get closer to blur the background. If your environment is too busy, your subject might lose its importance.
TIP: Simplify Background
Experiment with placing your subject in front of different backgrounds like color and textures.
8. horizon Position
Horizontal lines play an important role in photography composition. The most common place used is in outdoor photography. When a horizontal line divides the background from the foreground brings about a sense of stability.
Placing the horizon in a different position can have a significant impact on the image. As a practice, take three shots and move your horizontal line to the middle, the upper or lower part of the picture. See, which makes a considerable effect in your photo.
The image below doesn't have a dedicated horizon, but the horizontal line at the bottom of the frame gives you a starting point to follow your eyes all the way to the top of the buildings.
Placing the horizon in the middle of the frame not only creates a balance between the foreground and the background but also lead your eyes to the center where the clouds are the brightest.
TIP: Horizon Position
The horizon can be placed in any position using the rule of thirds, but it is up to you to break the rules. The higher you set the horizon's line, the foreground becomes the more prominent focus of the image. Beyond the horizon, things will appear farther in the distance.
9. framing your subject
Framing your subject can lead to a sense of balance or focused interest and focuses attention on a part of your image. Placing the frame in the foreground or background creates a sense of weight and importance of your subject.
Frames also can be divided. Not all frames are equally balanced or centered. A half frame can provide a lead for your viewer's eye to follow.
TIP: Fame Without Picture Frame
Try not to be so obvious. Use light and dark or water puddles to capture.
10. lines create Dynamic tension
Dynamic tension is a dramatic composition used in photography. Drawing the viewer's eyes to a particular portion of the scene using lines that are converging, merging, crossing each other, pointing to different directions.
Here are some tips on how to find dynamic tension in a photograph.
Multiple lines merging in one point.
Diagonal, angled lines moving away in different directions.
People in a group but one stands out by looking away from others.
A single color that stands out in the frame.
The vertical objects in a row make the ones further appear smaller.
The lines in this image are spread to multiple directions, curves away from the center, yet have a sense of order and balance. The towering buildings balance the weight with the large crowd on the street.
Image Courtesy Tim Volz
TIP: Using Lines
Try not to be so quick to use an apparent line and shoot away. Crossing, intersecting, diagonal lines. Find the best angle to highlight for maximum impact.
11. Incorporate Curves
Curving lines convey a natural organic feel that contributes to a perfect landscape, urban, and drone photography. Curving, banding lines transmit a sense of calm and peace to your viewers.
Check out more examples here
You can add more significant dynamics and avoid boring compositions by including straight lines or triangles in your photograph to create interest, just like the above image.
Repetition is a great technique to add interest to the image. Your eyes will follow the repeated pattern in a similar way that leading line would. Combining these two photography composition rules often leads to a creative image.
Image by: John T
The more the pattern or objects repeats, the more dynamic the image becomes.
13. Negative Space
Leaving space nearby your subject present it with a “breathing room” or in other words unoccupied space inside the frame. Your subject will be the main focus and will fill the positive area in your image.
The minimalism of this photography composition method assures that the viewer’s eyes are drawn to the subject.
TIP: Breathing Space
Find space. Left, right, top, bottom, or use all, it could be anywhere. Again, move around to include space.
14. Selective focus
What is selective focus means in photography?
The phrase "selective focus" indicates a technique in which you, as a photographer, make a subjective decision to focus on the subject, ignoring all other aspects of the scene. The contrast of the sharp subject against the soft background creates powerful, thoughtful images.
In this image below, I purposely focused on the fall leaves to blur the foreground and background using an 85 mm lens set to f/1.8.
TIP: Selective Focus
Blurring the background somewhat will help to keep your main subject in focus to stand out. Use a zoom lens for this purpose.
Patterns create balance within an image and are an incredible photography composition tool. The deal with patterns is to make sure they fill the frame.
You can also highlight the pattern by including an object to break it, which immediately adds another level of interest to the image
As a photography composition technique, using patterns can be very visually appealing. Check out some of the tips of ideas below.
It's all about patterns, texture, colors. Every aspect of the surface plays a significant impact on the overall perception of the viewer.
16. Depth Of Field
The term "Depth of Field" refers to the distance between the closest and most distant element or elements in a scene that appears to be "acceptably sharp" in an image. It is affected by aperture settings in your camera. The smaller the f/number like 1.8 or 2.8 larger, the depth of field (DOF), meaning backgrounds appear to be farther and out of focus.
The more significant f/number like 18 or 22, the DOF is smaller, so the image appears to be sharper more in focus from the foreground to the background.
A great photography composition technique to have in your arsenal.
Also called shallow depth of field is a usual composition technique used in portrait photography.
Isolating the subject by generating a blurry background with a shallow depth of field moves the viewer’s attention to the focal point.
TIP: Depth of Field (DOF)
To achieve a shallow depth of field, you should get closer to the subject, focusing on the particular part that you want to be sharp using wide apertures (f/1.4-f/5.6). This way, your background will be blurry, and the main focus is on your subject.
As for landscape photography, you wand every part of your scene in focus as much as possible. Using a wide-angle lens like 17mm-35mm and/or 20mm f/stop at 8 and up will likely give you the sharpest image.
Changing your position and shooting downward, upward close to the ground, can dramatically shift the image's impact.
Varying viewpoints will undoubtedly add more drama to your photography composition rather than the expected standing height viewpoint at eye level.
Standing still will get you nowhere. Move your feet.
An Important tip: always turn around and see what's behind you. You might be surprised by what you see.
18. Fill in the frame
Achieve this by using a zoom lens or stepping closer. This composition technique works well if your background is too busy and distracting.
Changing your position shooting downward, upward, close to the ground, can dramatically shift the image's impact.
TIP: Using Color
In portrait photography, you could fill the frame with the person's face or eyes.
On the other hand for maximum effect fill the frame with patterns and textures.
When using or indicating movement in the photograph, it is essential to create space for the direction your object is heading. It could be left-to-right, right-to-left, or up/down a path. As for western languages, reading left-to-right feels more natural, so we also read the movement in the same direction in your photograph. It is a great photography composition type.
When trying to freeze a moving subject, it is essential to leave space in front of it in the direction of the movement.
20. Odd Numbers
Rule of odds indicates you include an odd number of objects like 3, 5, 7, and so on. Odd numbers work especially well in photography composition. This is opposite in contrast to symmetry I mentioned earlier as another photography composition rule. However, it is up to you to decide if you are using this technique.
TIP: Odd Numbers
An even number of objects can be distracting because the viewer’s eye might not be sure where the main focus is. With odd numbers, the eye tends to lead there naturally.
What is the definition of juxtaposition? How to use it as a composition tool?
Two elements placed close together to show similarities or contrasting effects. There are many ways to interpret the juxtaposition technique.
In so many ways, this is the reverse of harmony or symmetry. In juxtaposition, you want to image contrast or opposite within your frame using non-symmetrical elements. The most obvious way to succeed is to arrange objects in adjacent or opposing spots to bring out their differences. The key is to be inventive and compelling.
Here are some juxtaposition composition tips:
How to create juxtapositions within your photograph?
Just keep it simple? Take two distinct elements, or two different subjects, and put them next to one another in a frame.
22. Adding Depth
The trick is to have a point-of-interest in the foreground, middle ground, and background in your composition.
All three should be able to stand on its own to create a movement that the viewer's eye can follow and rest on it.
TIP: Creating Depth
If the scenery is busy, include notable lines to lead the viewer's eyes to follow the path.
23. Unusual Vantage Point
How can we use a unique vantage point as a compositional tool?
The vantage point plays a vital role in the overall feel of your photograph. By adjusting your stance or moving higher or lower, you can effectively change how you observe a scene.
You can add interest and drama to your image by shooting from an unexpected place.
Varying viewpoints will undoubtedly add more drama to your photography composition rather than the expected standing height viewpoint at eye level.
TIP: Vantage Point
Experimenting is one of the best ways to push limits and get out of your comfort zone.
24. Show Context
There will be times when a simple background just not showing the effect you want. It would be an excellent time to let the environment visible but not too distracting, so it overwhelms the focal point.
TIP: Show context
Blurring the background will bring the subject of the image into focus, helping to stand out.
25. Use Contrast
Contrast is the way to add interest to your images to help composition, avoiding flat and dull look. Contrasting colors can add dimension and energize a photograph. A significant difference in shadows and dark contrast also achieves the same.
Image by: Ivan Bandura
Image by: Warren Wong
TIP: Using contrast
Accenting contrasting colors, it’s often helpful to enhance their strengths. Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filter will help you improve contrast in the sky or the foreground. Some software like Adobe Lightroom helps increase saturation and contrast in post-processing, but be careful not to force the changes too much.
26. Beyond the frame of your image
When a portion of your subject is offstage, your observers want to find out what people are looking at. Lure them to use their imagination to fill in the missing portion of the image. This composition technique takes advantage of the dynamics of “implied lines,” See more about implied lines below.
TIP: Beyond The Frame
When your subjects looking at something beyond the picture frame, it adds another layer to the story and creates an impact that makes your viewers wonder.
27. implied lines
What are implied lines mean in photography?
Implied lines are not actual lines typically you'll see. They are suggested instead. When you look at a photograph, you may be affected by the content or the impression you feel. Perhaps the use of lines or implied lines is one of the most powerful compositional element in photography.
TIP: Implied Lines
Anyone can follow a line, so don't be so obvious. Create lines that you imagine instead of seeing. You don't need to see your subject's eyes to know where and what they are looking at.
28. Show Interaction
Variation in composition continues beyond the field of emotion. The synergy between subjects, whether living or humanmade, generates a sense of “be in the present.” Your photograph tells a story, so the environment and life around interacting with each other.
Showing interaction as a composition leads to the success or failure of an image.
Interaction comes in diverse forms. The best part is to figure out how to capture the moment the sums up and shows the feeling you imagined and convey it to your viewers.
Image by: Daniel Cano
TIP: Show Interaction
Be patient, learn to wait for the right moment. Timing is essential, especially with wildlife and family interaction.
29. Leading lines
Leading lines or implied lines should create a natural, smooth path for the viewers eyes to follow. Usually, it would have a starting point and an ending point. These lines are not necessary strait lines but could be curvy, diagonal, or converge from multiple directions to create an interest within the image. Leading lines come in are diverse forms and shapes.
TIP: Leading Lines
Try to find the most interesting camera angle to engage with your audience for maximum impact.
30. Break The Rules!
We have just described 29 tips for better composition. None of these are actual rules you must follow; in fact, breaking the rules are more fun. But how do you break them if you don't know them? Photography composition rules are there to learn and understand what makes a photo from a snapshot to a photograph that evokes interest and to be proud of. It is all about experimenting and practicing to find a unique style that sets you apart.
Don't hesitate to learn from famous photographers. Many of them self-thought and continuously approving by experimenting and practicing.
We recognize these tips are not to provide a complete lesson in composition instead of the purpose of covering ideas to do better. Many of the most prominent photographers of all ages were self-taught. They consistently made mistakes with the composition until the "Aha moment."
These 30 composition ideas are here to provide an opportunity to learn, discover something new, and give you a good start to create dynamic and meaningful images. Start by selecting one of the tips and experiment with it. Put it into action and practice.
This concludes our full list of compositional techniques you can try in your journey.
We hope you've learned as much from this article that it will help you in your journey to becoming a more seasoned photographer.
We, at Beyond Snapshot Photography, thank you for your time to visit our blog and least but not last we encourage you to check out other blogs on photography tips and helpful hints.