Composition in Photography

Swan, Feather, Plumage, Black And White

With the introduction of the cell phone and tablet, everybody appears to be taking photos, and for many people they all need is a record of a holiday or family occasion or a particular moment in their lives that they are delighted to share with their friends and possibly to take a look at some years later as it’ll bring back a fond memory of times past.

We dispense with our point and shoot camera and stop using our telephones and invest at a reasonably good camera. Personally, although I was taking pictures for nearly 50 years, I just took it up as a serious hobby in 2010 when I bought a Panasonic DMC-FZ38 before visiting Kenya on my initial Safari.

To start with, I looked in the 128 page guide, barely understood a word, so set the camera to car and went off on safari. I took some wonderful photos but it was just after I joined a local camera club and began to learn about the art of makeup which I started to really look through the lens and consider what I was doing, rather than just pointing the camera at an item and pressing the camera.

All digital camera manufacturers spend lots of time and money on software to help the consumer get the right camera settings to capture that shot and, as I did originally, if you place your camera on auto, the huge majority of time you’ll receive technically fantastic outcomes. However the one thing that no camera can do, no matter how much money you’ve spent buying it, is write a photo that’s appealing to the eye.

Putting it into its basic form, composition can be regarded as the best way to produce a photo that’s aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. Sounds easy doesn’t it?
While you’ll undoubtedly learn by studying all those articles, (and I’d recommend that you do in time), I will focus on a few basic rules that I follow. Before I go farther, though some of them are called principles, recall rules are there to be broken. What I am attempting to do is to encourage you to consider what you’re trying to achieve when looking through the viewfinder. I will start then with something You’ve probably already come across:-

Essentially, if you envision a photograph divided into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, the principal subject of this picture should be where a vertical line cross a horizontal one.

Many modern cameras permit you to put a grid in the viewfinder that can be used to set the item where two lines intersect. While we are speaking about the Rule of Thirds, it’s generally best to set the horizon on one of the thirds, as opposed to in the middle of the frame, determined by whether the primary factors of interest are in the skies or on the floor.

Leading Lines

These lead the audiences eyes to the picture to the major subject or on a trip through all of the picture. Examples of leading lines might be a route wandering through the picture, a fence line, a winding street or a river or stream.


To demonstrate that the principles are no more than guidelines, the following one contradicts the Rule of Thirds. If your picture is symmetrical, then it might benefit from being centred either on the horizontal, or vertical middle line. This works especially well for reflections

Rule of Space

This principle is talking about giving the subject in the photograph, space to move in the frame. This especially applies to vehicles and animals. The thing should have the maximum distance in front of it, rather than be right up to the border of frame, giving it nowhere to go.

Rule of Odds

Broadly , it’s believed that photos with an odd number of topics is more visually attractive and natural looking than those with an even number, in which the audiences eyes can flick around the picture, unsure of where to settle. I often use the rule of chances particularly if taking a close up of flowers or so on.

I hope I have given you a brief insight into makeup and that when you look through your viewfinder you’ll at least stop and think for a few seconds in what you’re looking at and how the shot might be improved. But just remember, these principles, and all others you will encounter, are only guide lines that will assist you go in the right direction, they’re not railroad tracks that you need to adhere to rigidly.

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