Composition in photography for beginners

composition rules in photography

Composition in photography, we all have at some point heard  how a good composition is the key and very essential in making a great photograph .It goes without saying composition is one of the main pillars of photography. A photograph with a great  composition draws attention and focus of the viewer to the subject instantly .There are many composition rules that photographers follow when taking a picture which makes it striking and stand out .Of course, there are no hard and fast rule to follow them .Composition also depends on one’s own natural aesthetic sense and what feels right at the time of taking a photograph and the situation.After all rules can always be broken if the perspective of the photographer is satisfied , Isn’t it ?

What is Composition? It is nothing but how the elements and subjects are arranged in a picture and what it comprises of . There are many factors involved in  making a good composition like placement of the subject, perspective , theme etc. Sometimes the elements can be moved around to adjust .In food photography for example, one can move the food to a place with natural light, place the props as required .However in photographing  landscape and nature, the subject obviously cannot be moved around , so the photographer may need to do the moving to get the right view.

Although we may not consciously follow all the rules, it is handy and interesting to know and learn the composition rules . Some of the popular composition rules  I will cover in this post  are rule of thirds, following repetition and patterns, leading lines, rule of odds, framing, depth and layers, using combination of complementary colors and  left to right rule . There are many others as well like balancing elements,selective focus, golden triangle, golden ratio, empty space,symmetry , filling frame  and I will need to do a separate post on that to avoid a lengthy post. Let us focus and look at the the first eight composition rules with some examples as pictures are always better than a thousand words .

Eight Composition Rules for Photography

Rule of thirds: 

This is one of the very popular composition rules most photographers follow. The way it works is, imagine you have two imaginary vertical and horizontal lines drawn on a photograph.

  • The four points  where the lines intersect is the place for ideal placement of the subject .The eye of your subject could be on one of the intersecting points .Example. See the eye of the squirrel in the collage picture below.
  • The horizontal lines are the ideal places for the horizon to be positioned .Example. See horizon pictures below.
Rule of thirds - composition

Rule of thirds is seen in the picture of the horizon of the sea .The first picture has it on the lower line and the third picture on the upper line. The squirrel’s eye is rightly placed in the intersecting point of the lines.


Any repetition or patter in a photograph forms a good composition.There are natural and man made instances of the same if you look around .Some examples are in the two pictures below.

Repetition - Composition in Photography

Repetition of chairs in a stadium or the window sills make a good composition for photography.The viewers eyes are automatically drawn to it.

Leading lines:

The leading lines make a very interesting composition for photography.They need not be straight lines , it could be anything that leads the way to the viewer’s eyes.The following photos have example of leading lines:

Composition Leading Lines

Look at the leading lines on the board walk or the curved paths which are leading to the trails and trees.They make a great composition


When a photo is taken within a frame the subject is highlighted.The frame could also be something natural like a rainbow,bridge,trees ,arch of a building.This concept of frame within a frame creates a great composition .

Framing composition

The rainbows are natural frame for the scenic clouds and landscape in picture1. The picture2 has the cave entrance as a frame. The picture3 also has a natural frame with the night sky and stars in it.

Depth and Layers:

It goes without saying how depth and layers can create a great composition .Landscape views of mountains, rivers and trees, beaches, cloudy skies are some good examples of creating great depth and layers in a photograph.

 Complementary colors:

Complementary colors make great compositions. The opposite colors on a  color wheel (as shown in the picture below)are complementary colors .Combining the complementary colors like purple and yellow, pink and green, blue and orange , look great. Some examples are seen in the photographs below.

Complementary colors - Composition

The yellow butterfly on a purple flower, blue skies with orange foliage and pink flower with green leaves are all great complementary color combinations. Keep a color wheel handy to see the combinations .It’s quite interesting!

Rule of odds:

It is said whenever there is an odd number of subjects in a frame, the viewers eyes are naturally drawn to it as opposed to even numbers .The eyes are distracted and unable to focus suddenly when there are subjects in even numbers. Quite interesting right!

Rue of odds - composition

Photographs with odd number of subjects or items  in it is pleasing to the eye and constitute the rule of odds in photography composition.

Left to Right rule : 

When capturing a moving subject ,it is preferable to capture it moving from left to right as opposed to the other way. It is said that  the brain reads an image from left to right just like we read a text .The photographs below are good instances.However there are exceptions and there are  many right to left movement captures which also look fantastic. So do not be rigid on the rules!

Left to Right Composition

The movement of subjects from left to right make it have a great composition

There are many more rules of composition other than the eight listed above that make photography interesting . I will continue in another post as this is already a lengthy post .Please stay tuned for my next post on photography tips for other composition rules like balancing elements, selective focus, symmetry, golden triangle, diagonals and triangles and more .Hope you enjoyed this post .It’s always great to know these rules of composition but there is no hard and fast to rule to follow them as mentioned in the beginning.It is definitely okay to break them and follow your natural inclination or aesthetic sense and what best suits your taste and situation.Have a great day!




Source: Notes from my photography workshop and the following websites were used to summarize 
and gather information,

Photo credits: and pixabay

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Divya Deepak Rao
    May 19, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Love the sunset & the squirrel pictures! They are so stunning:)

    • Reply
      May 19, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      Thank you Divya, the photo credits go to pexels and pixabay.I agree they are stunning.

  • Reply
    May 19, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    Useful info for beginners like me and more to know about photography.. Thank you Nisha 🙂

    • Reply
      May 19, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      Great to hear that Ramya .I am happy to hear and glad to share what I am learning with every click , it is indeed a continuous learning process.Thank you!

  • Reply
    May 19, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    And about the click it’s amazing… squirrel looking so cute 😍👌

    • Reply
      May 19, 2018 at 6:31 pm

      Thank you Ramya , the photo credits go to pixabay and pexels. Glad you like them!

  • Reply
    Lace n Plaid
    May 19, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Great helpful tips to keep in mind. Thanks!

    • Reply
      May 19, 2018 at 10:48 pm

      Thank you so much, glad you found it helpful!

  • Reply
    May 19, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    These are some helpful tips!

    • Reply
      May 20, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      I’m happy to hear that.Thank you very much!

  • Reply
    Review It
    May 20, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    This is a nice blog and you have written well. Can you please visit my blog and provide me your valuable feedback?

    • Reply
      May 20, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      Great to hear your feedback and I appreciate it . I will definitely check it out!

  • Reply
    May 20, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Stunning photography and great tips! ❤

  • Reply
    The Karavali Wok
    May 20, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Such an informative post !! Awesome share Nisha 😍

    • Reply
      May 20, 2018 at 4:20 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it Smitha. Thank you!

  • Reply
    May 20, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Superb photography.. Such a cute subject

  • Reply
    May 21, 2018 at 2:16 am

    Quiet informative for the beginners

  • Reply
    May 25, 2018 at 9:42 pm


  • Reply
    May 25, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    ok once more

  • Reply
    Debanita Ghosh
    June 8, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    Lovely photography article! Liked the explanation of each rules with supporting images!

    • Reply
      June 9, 2018 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you so much my friend , glad you loved it!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    What a great informative post Nisha! I am sure the images and words together helps readers understand it fully. Very well explained!

    • Reply
      October 29, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks a lot Sandhya, much appreciated!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    So much great information and beautiful pictures.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    %d bloggers like this: