Although photographic composition is a subjective practice, there are certain rules and guidelines that experienced photographers like to keep in the back of their minds when shooting that help them to create aesthetically pleasing arrangements. This does not mean to say these rules must be followed rigidly, as many photographers routinely break them to maintain spontaneity and individuality. But, as with any practice, to break the rules effectively, it is important to be keenly aware of them in the first place. So, to help you improve your photographs and refine your eye, here are five composition tips.
Fill the Frame and Get Close
A lot of photographers will tell you that maximising visual impact often involves creating interest by filling the frame and getting close to your subject, as more is revealed to the lens under closer inspection. This tip particularly applies to portraiture, as more compelling facial studies are typically intimately close and utilise the majority of the frame. However, it’s also important to maintain balance within the composition, which leads us to the next tip…
Get to Know the Rule of Thirds
Used as an essential guideline by all photographers, the rule of thirds divides the screen into nine equal parts by horizontal and vertical lines. Placing your subject on the left or right of the frame along the intersecting lines will help to balance your composition, allowing for the right amount of negative space, as well as creating an important sense of perspective.
Frames Within Frames
A simple but effective visual trick displayed in many forms of photography is the use of natural frames, which help to draw the viewer’s eye towards certain parts of the image and create a focal point. You can also use lead lines and shapes to achieve this effect, which guides the eyes nicely into the photo, provide a sense of movement, and highlight the focus of your composition, making it more aesthetically pleasing.
Use Light Effectively
Understanding light is undoubtedly the most important part of improving your photography. Whether you’re doing portraits in a studio or taking landscapes, knowledge of the interplay between dark and light, and how they will affect the visual elements of your image, will vastly improve many aspects of your compositions, adding form, contrast, texture, and depth.
Pay Attention to the Background and Foreground
A distracting background or poor use of foreground will quickly throw a composition off balance. Choose your background carefully, making sure that it complements the rest of the arrangement. Similarly, good use of foreground will balance your compositions, as well as emphasize the main subject nicely.