If you ask me what is the next biggest thing to learn in photography, I’d say it is composition. Learning composition is adding the finishing touch to your photograph. It is like adding icing on a cake to make it taste even better. There are numerous ways to create epic composition but from my experience and reading other materials I’ve summarized down to 8 for you. So without further delay let move on.
1) Rule of third
The rule of third is a technique that you place the main subject (or subjects) at one of the four 1/3 intersections in your photo. In fact, if you place a tic tac toe grid on your photo then you should align an interesting object to one or all the intersection points. Doing this will make the photo more pleasing to the eyes and makes the photo more balance. Many studies have shown that when people view an image their eyes naturally go to the intersection points of the photo rather than the center of the image. This is one of the golden rules of composition and should be one of your very first techniques to learn about composition.
2) Leading lines
Leading lines is another golden rules of composition. They are lines within an image that leads the eyes to another point of interest, which could be within or outside the image. Photographers usually use brides, roads, shorelines, fences etc to make leading lines.
3) Use of negative space
The term negative space means the space around the subject of your photograph that forms an interesting composition. In photography, sometimes this is called ‘minimalistic’. The way to achieve this is to only place the subject of interest in your photograph and leave everything else blank. The blank space around your subject will form an artistic effect and often times this creates an interesting perspective on your photo.
4) Frame within a frame
The best example to illustrate a frame within a frame is from my previous post here. In point 6 I talked about how to frame the picture using windows of a restaurant and this is one of the many ways you can create frame within a frame composition. This is especially useful in travel photography where you are constantly changing locations. So look around your surrounding, check the archways, gaps, gates and use your creativity to create frames inside your photographs.
5) Avoid horizon in the middle
When you take pictures remember to keep your horizon out of the center of the picture. I remember learning this in my very first photography lesson and the instructor said if the sky is more interesting then lower your horizon. On the other hand if the land is more interesting than raise the horizon but NEVER put it in the middle.
6) 2nd point of interest
This is a quick tip for better composition. If you add a secondary point of interest in your photograph, sometimes it will further enhance the story you are trying to tell your viewer. For example if you have a runner running a marathon, capture another runner while they are crossing the finish line. Doing this will reinforce the theme of your picture and bring another perspective to your viewer.
7) Background, midground, foreground
There is a very simple way to explain this concept. Say if you are taking a picture from the beach to the ocean but all you include is the ocean and nothing else, the picture will look pretty plain. How about adding a seashell in the foreground then takes the shot? This looks better but it isn’t perfect. Now how about if we include the sunset as a background? So now you have seashell as foreground, the ocean as midground, and sunset as background. Perfect composition!
8) KISS (keep it simple stupid)
As I mentioned in my previous post here, don’t over think when you take a photograph. Treat this like playing golf because once you over think it’s the time you hit the ball to the bushes, water, bunker or just nowhere. I understand we have already talked so much about composition and why I have to tell you this in step 8? The quick answer is sometimes we have to break the rules. We need to let our creativity juice flowing for better composition and it is something nobody can teach you. Therefore, my last tip for you is to KISS it and shoot it (shoot as in take the photograph, nothing else).