Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art.  Besides the actual subject of the work of art, composition, I believe, is the most important element.

When deciding on composition in photography, first pick the subject.  Once the subject is chosen pick up the camera and frame the image in the view finder.  My teacher always said, “Check your four corners.” In other words, check everything inside the view finder before you take the shot.  In the day of digital it’s a little easier to take a bad shot and not have pay for the film and processing, but if there is a good shot to be had, check the four corners!

Below are examples of checking your four corners. These are both of the same bridge, in the first image a part of a little girl is in the bottom right hand corner.  WHOOPS, forgot that corner!  In the second, more of the opening of the bridge is missing and now we are not sure of height of the bridge. The second image leaves something to the imagination.

Forgot Four Corners

Four Corners checked

One of my favorite rules is the rule of thirds.  Look at your subject and think of it as a grid.

The points of intersection are called crash points or power points.  The subject of your image does not have to touch the points or lines but could run along them as well.  The rule of thirds just creates a more visually dynamic piece.

Not visually dynamic

Visually dynamic

A great many people like to take pictures with their subject in the center.  This works for picture taking and also in portrait photography, but don’t be afraid to throw your images off center.  Create something to provoke a thought.  

Traditional Portrait

Artistic Wedding Portrait

Other ways of making a photograph more visually dynamic is leave something to the imagination.  Take a photograph up close, cropping subject or show lines running off the page to create movement of the eye.

Just a picture of a sculpture

Upclose cropping to create a more visually dynamic image

Line leading the eye

Heidi Kelly


One Response to “Composition”

  1. Dee

    Thanks for the informative article!

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