Photography composition isn’t always a straightforward process. Although there are ‘rules’ of a sort, breaking these conventions often delivers excellent results. With that in mind, it can be confusing for new photographers to master the art of composition. We’ve highlighted seven essential tips for great photography composition that can help you get started.
1. Don’t Rush
When you’re approaching a location or shoot, it’s important you don’t just start blustering about taking photos of everything. Take your time and observe what’s going on around you; look for interesting features, and try framing a variety of angles and shots. You’ll soon get a feel for what you’re working with, and how you can take the best possible photograph. If it helps, try using your smartphone camera to frame shots you want to try; it’ll give you a quick result on whether it works. If in doubt, keep it simple.
2. Look for Patterns
There are usually a lot of different patterns in any given landscape. Whether it’s the way clouds form or the way the wind blows the grass, these natural patterns can help to create interesting pictures. Photography composition is all about highlighting the interesting aspects of your surroundings.
3. Use Shapes and Lines
As well as patterns, try to look for natural shapes and lines that will make your photos stand out. It’s always useful to use these lines to direct the viewers’ attention to specific parts of the frame. They can be distracting, however, so ensure that you’re using them to your best advantage.
4. Use Layers
In photography composition, particularly with landscapes, it can be incredibly difficult to demonstrate the depth of field you can see with the eye. Transferring that 3D image into an appealing 2D one is tricky, but not impossible. Use layers to give your photos depth. These layers can take the form of objects in the landscape, as well as certain lighting and conditions. Snow and fog are two excellent ways of showing depth, as they give texture to the environment.
5. Tell a Story
The most stunning and interesting photos capture the very essence of the subject. When you’re shooting a landscape, the mood, lighting, weather, and environment all tell a story of your experience. Try to capture the elements that make your composition unique. Doing so will give your viewers an insight into what you experienced at the time of shooting.
6. Use Negative Space
Quite often, photography composition rules will tell you not to have too much negative space. This refers to blank spaces in the frame that can look mundane. However, when used correctly, negative space can create a dramatic effect. The contrast between emptiness and a subject can create powerful images that tell a story.
7. Remove Distractions
With all of the tips we’ve provided so far, it could be tempting to fill your frame with a variety of different aspects. However, a photo that’s too busy will fail to hold the viewers’ attention. Try to aim for simplicity; focus on your subject and telling the story of that element. Crop out any distractions that detract from the main centrepiece.