Composition in Photography

Composition in photography is one of the very first places in the importance of application. A very rare shot can be successful without applying basic compositional rules.

The basics of composition in photography. Yes, rules are there to be broken. But before you start bypassing the laws of composition, you need to study the principles of frame construction and placement of objects in a photograph.

Therefore, we have selected for you 5 effective techniques that you can apply during photography and thereby improve the final photos.

What is Composition in Photography?

Composition in Photography
Composition in Photography

Composition in photography is the control of the viewer’s gaze in the frame. You, as a photographer, use certain techniques to decide what the audience is looking at first and what second.

Thus, forcing to pay attention to key objects and skip what is not so important.

Note! Eighty percent of the success of a photograph depends on a successful composition.

This is what will be discussed below. If you master a few simple rules of composition, then you will have every chance to make your photos much more attractive.

Perspective Views

Composition in Photography
Composition in Photography

We see the world around us in volume. The camera creates images in two-dimensional format. Therefore, to create space, you can use the technique of perspective.

It helps to indicate the location of objects in space. That is, indicate which of them is close, and which is far.

There are three main types of perspective:

  • Linear
  • Air
  • Tonal

Linear perspective. Lines converging into the distance form a linear perspective. These can be the outlines of roads, buildings or pillars extending into the distance. Our perception of the world is arranged in such a way that we consider large objects closer, and perceive smaller ones as more distant.

Aerial perspective. Fog, smoke from a fire make the air denser, so distant objects become less contrasting. This is a good way to show the viewer what’s close and what’s next. Thus, the depth of space can be shown.

Tonal perspective. All people perceive colors in about the same way. Warm colors: orange, yellow and red seem closer to us than cold ones. There is an explanation for this. We are used to seeing fire, the skin of other people next to us.

The cold sky and horizon are always far away from us, so in the composition this can be used by placing warm colors in the foreground, and cold colors (blue, light blue) in the background.

Guide Lines

Composition in Photography
Composition in Photography

Another way is with guide lines. With its help, you can control the viewer’s gaze, creating a kind of paths along which the gaze will move absolutely unconsciously.

It can be a path stretching through the landscape, sequential elements of the landscape or interior. Very easy, the main thing is to turn on your imagination. Try it.

Golden Ratio

Composition in Photography
Composition in Photography

In the viewfinder, as well as on the screens of many cameras, you can see horizontal and vertical lines that intersect in four places to form rectangles. It is at these points that the golden ratio can pass.

If the main object hits the intersection, the viewer’s gaze will focus on it first.

This technique is even simpler than the previous one. It is not necessary to place the main object exactly where the lines intersect. The main thing is that he was close to these points.

Statics and Dynamics

Composition in Photography
Composition in Photography

Composition helps not only to identify the main objects. It also allows you to convey a feeling or mood. If you compare horizontal and vertical frames, then the first one will seem more static to you. You can add additional dynamics to a picture by simply making it vertical.

A good way to get the right audience reaction is to use diagonals. They can be built from anything. This could include the skyline, roof edge, and other architectural elements. Remember that the diagonal can be used as a way to set the mood.

Lines rising from left to right are perceived as growth directions. They symbolize success. But they are also associated with stress. Since it’s not easy to go uphill.

Space to Look

Composition in Photography
Composition in Photography

There is one very important rule when shooting portraits. Always leave room for your eyes. Pay attention to where your subject is looking and frame so that there is more space where her gaze is directed.

The area behind the model can be sacrificed by keeping it to a minimum. The rule of the golden ratio is also relevant here.

You may also like to read: Photo Composition: The Secrets of a Good Shot

Symmetry and Asymmetry

Composition in Photography
Composition in Photography

The symmetry in the frame can be beautiful, but it often makes the photo static and boring. Popular images of sunsets are a prime example.

When the viewer sees a seascape with the horizon and the sun in the middle, he is not penetrated. And all because the photographer did not tell him that the sky, the sun or the sea are more important in the frame.

Try to choose one thing, cutting off the other half so that it does not interfere with perception. Place the horizon along one of the thirds lines. Put the sun at one of the intersection points. Framing like this makes a boring photo instantly more interesting.

Don’t forget to correct the horizon. A photo with a cluttered horizon looks untidy and hints at unfinished business. Choose one thing.

Either you build a diagonal from the horizon (if this is somehow justified) or align it so that the fastidious viewer has nothing to complain about.

You may also like to read: Rules of Composition: 11 Best Compositional Rules in Photography

10 Simple Rules for Composition in Photography

Rules for Composition in Photography
Rules for Composition in Photography

1. Contrast

How to draw the viewer’s attention to your photo There should be contrast in the frame:

  • A lighter subject is shot against a dark background, and a dark one against a light background.
  • Do not photograph people against a yellow or brown background, the color of the photo will be unnatural.
  • Do not shoot people against a colorful background, such a background distracts the viewer’s attention from the model.

2. Accommodation

Important plot elements should not be randomly placed. It is better that they form simple geometric shapes.

3. Equilibrium

Objects located in different parts of the frame must match each other in volume, size and tone.

4. Golden Ratio

The golden ratio was known in ancient Egypt, its properties were studied by Euclid and Leonardo da Vinci. The simplest description of the golden ratio: the best point for positioning your subject is about 1/3 of the horizontal or vertical edge of the frame. The location of important objects in these visual points looks natural and attracts the viewer’s attention.

5. Diagonals

One of the most effective compositional premas is the diagonal composition.

Its essence is very simple: we place the main objects of the frame on the diagonal of the frame. For example, from the top left corner of the frame to the bottom right.

The good thing about this technique is that such a composition continuously guides the viewer’s eye through the entire photo.

6. Format

If the frame is dominated by vertical objects – shoot vertical frames. If you are photographing a landscape, shoot horizontally.

7. Point of View

The choice of the shooting point directly affects the emotional perception of the picture. Let’s remember a few simple rules:

  • For a portrait, the best point is at eye level.
  • For a full-length portrait – at waist level.

Try to crop your frame so that the horizon line doesn’t cut the photo in half. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the viewer to focus on objects in the frame.

Keep your camera level with your subject, otherwise you risk distorted proportions. The subject shot from above appears smaller than it actually is. So, shooting a person from the top point, in the photo you will get a person of small stature. When photographing children or animals, get down to eye level.

8. Direction

Our brain is used to reading from left to right, so we evaluate a picture in the same way. Therefore, it is better to place the semantic center on the right side of the frame. Thus, the gaze and the subject of the photograph seem to move towards each other.

When building a composition, always keep this point in mind.

9. Color Spot

If there is a spot of color in one part of the frame, then there must be something in the other that will catch the viewer’s attention. This can be another color spot or, for example, an action in the frame.

10. Movement in The Frame

When shooting a moving subject (car, cyclist), always leave a clear space in front of the subject. Simply put, position the subject as if it had just “entered” the frame and not “exited”.

You may also like to read: Photo Composition: The Secrets of a Good Shot


We hope we’ve been able to convince you that composition is a very important element in photography. Try these techniques while taking photos. You can include multiple composition rules in one frame. This will enhance the effect and allow the viewer to travel around your photo.

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