Developing a feel for good composition is one of the easiest ways to significantly improve one’s photography. It doesn’t require a new camera or expensive and fancy new lenses. Average and relatively uninteresting photographs can be made into interesting and captivating images, and good photography can be made exceptional.
Composition is all about arranging the elements of a picture to create something the viewer finds pleasurable, interesting, visually appealing and worth looking at.. And all that is required is to consistently keep a few fairly straightforward principles in mind. Herewith twelve of those principles, ideas that can improve your photographs significantly.
First a note: All rules are meant to be broken, not least so for the principles of composition. Exceptions will always be made. As in most cases, knowing the rules better prepares you to break them intelligently. There will be many outstanding pictures that do not observe some of these principles. Think of these ideas as suggestions to be kept in mind, “starting points” perhaps, a guide to thinking about and assembling your picture, not hard and fast rules.
1. Think in terms of the frame
Strictly speaking, “framing” refers to what gets included in the image, and “composition” to how those elements are arranged. I tend to think of it all composition. But the first principle of composition is to frame the picture.
Look at the scene first. think about what elements you want to include, and imagine a frame drawn around them. With practice, you should become used to thinking of the size frame associated with each lens focal length (Using a single lens for a period helps develop this instinct) so that you can visualize the picture frame before looking through the viewfinder. What gets included? What is important to what you want to say, and what not? Can the elements in the frame stick together in a cohesive and related way (see Balance below, 8)? Continue reading