Photography composition for beginners or Composition in photography, we all have at some point heard how 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 the 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 is no hard and fast rule to follow them. The 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 the 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 the rule of thirds, following repetition and patterns, leading lines, rule of odds, framing, depth, and layers, using a 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 the frame and I will need to do a separate post on that to avoid a lengthy post. Let us focus and look at 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 the 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.
Any repetition or pattern 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 of chairs in a stadium or the window sills makes a good composition for photography. The viewer's eyes are automatically drawn to it.
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 an example of leading lines:
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 .
The rainbows are a natural frame for the scenic clouds and landscape in picture1. 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 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.
Rule of odds:
It is said whenever there is an odd number of subjects in a frame, the viewer's 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!
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!
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 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 :lenslounge.com, petapixel.com Photo credits: pexels.com and pixabay