Composition is one of the most important factors in becoming better as an amateur photographer, but it’s something that can sometimes be daunting for newcomers. Learning a bit more about how to compose the best picture can make a huge difference to the quality of your photography, yet it can be quite hard to learn.
In this article, we’re going to look at a few rules for capturing the best composition and some tips for composing the best images for newcomers to photography or those looking to learn more and improve their skills.
Creativity is still important when it comes to composition. Every photographer should develop their own style, so rather than teaching a one size fits all approach, this article will give you a few tips so that you can learn the basics and then go your own way.
- The basics of composition
Composition simply refers to how the elements of a photo are arranged. Compositions can be created from many different elements. Some photographers like to have compositions with loads of elements, while others focus on just a few. The composition of a photograph can help make it more interesting to a viewer, so it’s something a photographer needs to take it to account and put a lot of thought into.
Composition is hugely important in photography. It can completely change the quality of a photo. You might have seen photos in great settings with great scenery that simply don’t do anything for you—that’s normally because they were composed incorrectly. Composition is everything in photography, and can make an image much more interesting.
Since everyone has access to a camera these days, being able to compose a photo properly can make your work stand out from that made by people who don’t understand composition properly.
- Main principles in composition for photography
There can be a lot to get to grips with when it comes to composition. Learning all the rules might take a while, but even just incorporating a few of these ideas one step at a time can start making a huge difference in the quality of your photos.
When you want to bring attention to certain parts of a photograph, lines are really important. A strong line in the right direction can bring the viewers attention to the most important parts of a photograph.
One type of line is known as a leading line, this is something that points the viewer into a frame and brings attention to the subject. You can also have multiple lines that converge to bring even more attention.
One tip for using lines in composition is to bring them in from the corners. This helps make sure the lines are neutral and don’t cut part of the frame away like a line from an edge might.
Streams and rivers are great subjects if you’re looking to experiment with lines in photography.
Space is hugely important in composing a great picture. It’s the way objects and elements relate to each other in a frame. Negative space can be left around objects and can actually stand as an interesting element of the photo itself.
So not only are the objects of a photo important, but so is the space around them.
- Form and shape
These are two similar ideas for composition, except that “form” elements are normally three dimensional and have weight and depth. Some argue that the more interesting the form of a photo is, the more interesting the outcome will be. Forms can be geometric buildings or organic items like an animal or plant.
- Value and colour
This one can sometimes be confusing for newcomers, but value in photography refers to light and dark. In other words, value refers to shades of grey, black and white.
Black and white can be used to create very powerful photographs, even if you aren’t actually shooting in black and white. They can add a lot to colour photos, too. Instead of just looking for lots of different colours, try experimenting with different shades of the same colour, or a smaller palette of colours to get to grip with things.
Aside from the “value” (black and white) of an image, other important colour aspects include hue and intensity. Hue often refers to the colour, while intensity is how bright that colour is.
There is a huge amount of experimenting that can be done when it comes to hue and intensity in photos. There are some basic colour schemes that tend to work well together that you might want to learn to get started. There’s also a huge amount of colour theory that photographers have spent years studying. It’s a huge subject to get into, but learning a little at a time can go a long way towards improving your photography skills dramatically and quickly.
While not specifically a colour, the texture of colours and objects is also a big part of composition.
- More composition learning
While these are just the basics of photo composition, there’s a huge amount more you might want to learn. This can be a little daunting to start with, but other subjects you might want to look into include rhythm, balance, emphasis, variety, movement, and harmony.
You could also look into the Gestalt Principles of Composition, which is a slightly more advanced set of procedures. These include ideas based on Continuity, similarity, closure, symmetry, proximity and more.
- Tips for finding the right composition
Firstly, you need to do a little reading and look at examples. This article is just the start. There’s a lot to learn, so it might be a good idea to just do a small bit at a time. Pick one idea that you want to experiment with that day rather than trying to use every composition tip in the book all at once. Get your inspiration and look at other photos to see what they’ve done when it comes to composition.
Make sure you plan your shoot effectively and arrive as early as possible to the scene. Don’t rush anything, and take plenty of shots. Hopefully, this short starter on composition is enough to start producing results straight away.
Charlie Jenkins is a filmmaker and content writer for Bounce Video in Oxford UK. Bounce specialises in capturing and telling emotive stories through carefully crafted and produced videos for a whole host of clients.