Basic Photography Composition Rules

Photography captures your view of the world — and composition is what makes it yours. Composition is both what you include in the frame and what you don’t, as well as where you include everything. While you can’t just take a paintbrush, and put the objects in the scene exactly where you want them, by moving your feet, adjusting the camera or using zoom, you can change the photograph's composition. Here’s how to emphasize your view of the world using photography composition basics.

Photography Composition Basics: What Is Composition?

Composition determines what is included in the frame and wherein the image that objects — or person — sits. Does the subject rest in the middle of the photo, off to the side, or on an extreme edge? Is the subject the only thing in the photo, or are there objects in the foreground (or front of the picture) or background?

There are a number of different ways to change a photo’s composition, including adjustments to the camera as well as changes to where you are standing. To adjust a photo’s composition, you could:

  • Zoom in or out
  • Crop the image in the post (not as good as adjustments made while shooting, since this will reduce the resolution)
  • Stand in a different position
  • Change your height by laying on your belly or stepping on a chair
  • Change the camera from landscape to portrait orientation
  • Frame the subject with natural objects in the scene
  • Physically move the objects in the photo to new locations

The best method for adjusting the composition is going to depend on the scene and your gear. Obviously, you can’t move the Statue of Liberty, but you could zoom in, for example.

Photography Composition Tips

By having a large number of techniques to choose from, you can find the composition that best suits the scenario.

  • Know the photography composition rules: Understanding the rule of thirds — which suggests dividing the frame into threes each way and placing the subject on one of those lines — helps you better understand composition — and when to break the rules.
  • Look for pattern and repetition: Humans are creatures of habit, which means patterns are pleasing to the eye. Or, to add even more interest, use a pattern that breaks at one point — like a line of red birds on a wire with one blackbird.
  • Lines, lines, lines: Lines are excellent compositional tools. In general, the eye will follow the line, so a line that goes into the distance, such as a road or a path, will lead the viewer’s eye into the image. Vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines are all excellent as well.
  • Height: Looking straight on at an object is neutral. Looking at an object at a higher plane makes that item appears larger and more dominating while looking down at an object makes it appear smaller.
  • Balance the frame: While in many cases empty spaces work well, in others, you may want to balance out a larger object with a smaller one for more interest.
  • Fill the frame: This is an often-repeated photography composition tip that suggests getting up close and giving the subject dominance.
  • Embrace negative space: On the flip-side, placing the subject with a vast expanse of empty sky or empty space can also be an effective compositional tool, just with a different feel than getting up close.
  • Frame the frame: Yes, the composition is about putting something in a frame, but using natural frames, such as branches around both sides of the subject, is also a powerful compositional tool. Look for objects in the foreground that could draw attention to the subject or hide distractions in the background.
  • Keep it simple: Composition is what you don’t include as well. Look for distractions and try to eliminate them by cropping them out, eliminating them with perspective or covering them up with that foreground element. Of course, Smart Photo Editors can remove distractions like telephone lines, road signs and pretty much anything else you can imagine if there’s no way to eliminate them while shooting.

Composition guidelines in photography help you choose just where to the point that viewfinder. Using composition, you can make endless variations of similar subjects, each with a different look and feel. Ultimately, composition allows you to share your unique view with others through the art of photography. SmartPHOTOeditors being one of the pioneers in photo editing solutions providers have contributed in collating such guidelines to help photographers create the best albums. However, in case you need a special touch to your images or want to enhance the quality, Contact us explore our high-quality image editing services at a competitive cost.