24 Compositions

Composition can make or break a great story. Composition can be quite complicated, and there are many ways to express a scene or story with your camera. Anyone can take a picture of a beautiful landscape scene, but how you compose the image can bring life to the scene, draw the viewer through the frame, help you remove distracting elements, and create a story. 

Sometimes, we can all get in a rut, shooting the same way and composing our images comfortably. Take some time to review these 24 ideas and mark 1-3 that you can try this year and see how they work for you. 

24 Composition Techniques:

Negative space:  This is usually a large space to the right or left of your subject. It could also be above or in the foreground. The idea is to give the subject space and breathing room, creating significance for the subject. 
Rule of thirds: This is an original photographic composition, but one we often don’t use. If you divide your frame into 3, vertically and horizontally, and then place your subject on one of those lines, you create an asymmetric image that is aesthetically pleasing. 
Leading lines: Use implied (or actual) lines to lead the viewer’s eye through the frame. Think about a tree branch leading you to a bird. The lines help to tell the story. 
Symmetry: Symmetry brings people comfort. Could you highlight a symmetrical subject or balance the image with multiple items to create balance? 
Fill the frame: Fill the frame with your subject. Don’t let any background creep in at the edges. This creates a stunning, focused image. 
Balance: Ensure all the elements in your image are nicely balanced. So don’t let anyone part of the image overtake another. 

Remove the foreground: An image typically has a foreground, a subject, and a background. Removing the foreground brings your subject closer to the lens and brings emphasis.

Shapes: Can you create an image that flows as a circle or triangle, leading the eye around the frame? 
Is the subject leaving the frame? Do you keep your whole subject in frame? Crop off part of the subject. Being intentional can create a powerful or fun image if shooting people only cut off at the bends or joints. 
Movement: How can you express movement in your images through composition? 
Square format: Intentionally shot something, intending to put it in a square crop. How does that change your viewpoint and final image?

Frame in a frame: Look for or create something to frame your subject. 
Break the rules:  Place things in the middle of the frame, lose focus in areas,  make things overlap, make your foreground extra large, or do anything out of the ordinary. 

Bird’s Eye View: Focus on something above you, stretch to reach the sky, or get up high and shoot something down low.

Child View: Get down as low as possible and shoot to provide a unique perspective

Minimalism: reduce all clutter from the image and create something clean and simple. 

Shadows: use shadows intentionally to tell the story and highlight the light in the image

Odd Number: intentionally have 3 or 5 items in your composition to ensure an odd number and unevenness

Center: Place the subject in the exact center of the image. 

Scale: Alter the scale of something. If the subject is small, make it appear bigger using a wide-angle lens, or do the opposite and make something large seem smaller. 

Horizontal: use the horizon line to compose the scene - just be sure it is straight when you finish the image. 

Leaving the frame: Positioning the subject to feel like it is moving towards the center of the frame rather than about to escape can be more satisfying as the viewer has a sense of where the subject is going. Having the subject about to leave the frame can invoke a feeling of drama as the viewer will have a subconscious urge to see where the subject is headed.

Color: Colors can impact the sense of balance a photograph conveys depending on how different colors work together and their brightness and saturation. Determine the color you want to be significant in the image and work to compose the image to highlight that color. 

Perspective Distortion: Moving close to a tall subject so it towers over you gives an unusual and intriguing perspective. Using this photo composition to eliminate distracting backgrounds can help you, too.

Using Format