Photography composition is an as essential element of your photography as light is. Indeed, it is what constructs the image and decides from which angle the audience is looking at it. How you compose your work depends on your practice and the themes you work with.
For example, in landscape photography, the subject is the whole environment. In portrait photography on the other hand the main element is the person. Composing these come with different elements. In landscape photography, your field is broad, while in portrait photography you focus on details of the character.
There are no distinctive rules on what types of composition to use in which photographic practice. However, some genres use more of the rule of thirds and others use such elements as leading lines.
I will explain the main composition elements and address how you can use them in your photography.
1.Centering your subject
The easiest and simplest way to compose portraiture. Centering your subject giving it maximum attention in the image. Whether you’re photographing them from the side or from the front. This can also be done by cropping the image afterwards, but I go by this rule; The main focus should always be on doing the maximum amount of work during a photoshoot so that you’ll have a minimum amount of work afterwards. In other words; compose your image at the scene and avoid the additional work.
2.Look For Shapes
We’re surrounded by plenty of shapes in our environment. These shapes can be organic such as rocks and hills, but also inorganic such as furniture or other objects. Teaching yourself to see through colors and shapes will help you when scanning for an image while looking at your surroundings.
I’m drawn to strong colors and unusual light, it’s immediately easier to spot them and build the image around those elements.
3.Rule of Thirds
You might’ve heard about this rule – most budding photographers use this composition once they learn it. And not just the budding ones; it’s commonly used in for example landscape photography and magazine articles since it leaves space for designing the rest of the article. The Rule of Thirds divides your image with two horizontal and two vertical lines that intersect. The viewers’ eyes are naturally drawn to those points, so you should place your subject along with one of the lines or on one of the points.
4.Look For Triangles
We can depict an image from multiple points of view. Indeed the direction we choose to photograph from will give us a more flexible space to move and to compose an image. Building triangle shapes with your subject(s) will instantly direct the eye to the desired direction. All you need are three visual points that exist in a somewhat triangular formation.
5.Frame Within a Frame
Yet another popular composition element especially used by adding doors to the images. Focus on your subject by using a frame to draw attention to a specific area of your image. Frames can be organic, such as overhanging tree branches, or man-made objects, such as windows.
6.Look For Leading Lines
Literal lines or implied ones create a path for the viewer’s attention to follow. They can be straight, curved, or angular. A photograph may have one leading line or it may have a bunch that converges on the subject from different angles. When using this technique, use the lines to bring the focus to your subject. These lines will come in different forms.
Regarding these tips or not, you can compose your images as you please. The tips shared here are to give you direction in your photography journey. There is not only one way to compose a photo. Photography is ongoing experimentation and a process of finding your own unique style that sets you apart from the rest. Explore to find inspirational photographers and learn from their work. I listed some of my favorite photography artist books here, and love to find inspirational artists on Artsy.
Once you’ve learned the art of photography and composing, you will want to eventually edit your series. My best tips on editing your series can be found here.