If you are a new photographer, or just looking to take your photos up another level, some basic composition tips can really make a difference. Before just snapping away next time, take a minute to think about how you want to arrange the elements and points of interest in your photograph. These tips are simple, but can make a noticeable difference in the quality of your photos.
- The Rule of Thirds
When it comes to balancing the elements in an image, the rule of thirds is the go-to trick. It works by dividing the image up into 9 equal parts. Do this by imagining tic-tac-toe lines imposed on your image (2 equidistant vertical and horizontal lines). When arranging your image, you want to put points of interest along these lines or on the intersection points. Many digital cameras even come with a setting that imposes these lines on the camera’s screen as well!
- Leading Lines
When taking a photograph, you want your viewer to know where to look. A great tool is using the natural lines within the image itself to direct the viewer’s eye. The line of a road will automatically lead the viewer’s with it, to whatever point of interest you may choose. Curved lines will also naturally pull the viewer through the journey within the frame.
Though many photographers know what the subject of their photograph is, they can forget to give thought to any other elements. When it comes to composing your shot, you must not only think of your subject, but the foreground, middleground, and background of the entire image as well. You don’t want to lose your point of interest, so make sure your background isn’t too busy. It is important to have elements placed on all three planes in order for your image to have depth. Yes, photographs are two dimensional, so you want to make sure to capture the three dimensional world with as much depth as possible!
Another fun way to approach the composition of your image is to think about viewpoints. This means, don’t take every photo at the height of your natural eye line. Instead, play with getting below your subject, or even above it with a bird’s eye view. Viewpoint makes a huge difference in the story of a subject. A fun way to see this in action is by taking a photo of the same subject at different heights and seeing how it transforms the story of your subject.
Lastly, always be thinking about the story of the image. This will affect the four tips listed above the most. What is going on in your image? What are you trying to capture? Let the answers to these questions inform how you compose your image overall.
Make sure to keep these tips in mind next time you whip out your camera. More importantly, remember that photography is fun! And as always, some of that fun can come from breaking the rules, so don’t be afraid to experiment on your own!