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Photo Composition: The Secrets of a Good Shot

According to the plot idea, the photo composition of the frame is the compilation of a single whole from separate parts. The purpose of such a construction is to create, taking into account the foundations of the composition, a harmonious, complete image that will interest the viewer, will not leave him indifferent.

How to Compose Your Photos Correctly?

The main task of photo composition is to create a plot and convey its meaning to the viewer. The result depends on the location of the central units, on the correct construction, color and texture characteristics, lighting, angles, geometric conditions, and other factors.

There is no such single composition rule that will ensure the success of a photo since everything is interconnected, balanced, and the approach must necessarily be creative.

3 Main Points to Compose Your Shot Correctly

  • find something unusual, interesting;
  • competently create a frame – arrange all the elements in the places necessary in this composition;
  • wait for the situation when a connection is made between all participants in the plot. If the composition is built correctly, then we already get artistic photography.

14 Photo Composition Techniques

14 Photo Composition Techniques

The photo’s composition is formed in such a way to indicate the essential part of the image. This is achieved by positioning the main subject in the picture and using the background correctly, the height of the apparatus, focus, etc. The photographer makes the audience view the main character of the composition first of all.

1. Selecting the Main Object

The composition consists of one primary and several secondary parts. The main thing must be highlighted so that your idea is clear. This can be done in various ways:

  • dimensions – to show it as the most significant part of the plot;
  • creating a fuzzy, blurry background;
  • the play of color – to highlight the main thing with brighter tones;
  • using different lighting – the background is darker; the main object is lighter;
  • uniqueness – the main thing should be sharply different from other parts of the composition;
  • and, of course, to remove from the frame everything unnecessary that interferes with the viewer’s perception of the plot idea.

2. The Scale of The Plan

There are four types.

General Plan – A large fragment of the territory is covered. The faces are small; the details are not visible.

Mid-Shot – The surrounding persons or objects are an essential part of the plot; details are visible at the central object.

Close-Up – Here the main object can be seen; there is no environment.

Extra Close-Up – Focuses on details that expressively characterize the main idea (for example, on the eyes, lips).

3. The Rule of Thirds and The Golden Ratio

The rule of thirds is the basic rule for capturing interesting, dynamic images. The frame is conditionally divided by two horizontal and two vertical lines into nine parts. The visual centers are at the points of intersection. From these positions, viewers usually begin to get acquainted with the photo.

At these points and on the lines themselves, it is recommended to place the image’s main subject. As a result, a more attractive, harmonious frame is obtained, as in this photo – the sand vortex column is located along the left vertical line.

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

For novice photographers, this rule may seem unnecessary. They place the main subject in the center of the frame, and the photos are less exciting and dynamic.

To ensure the importance of this rule, you can experiment: take two images – the same shot, but in two versions: with the location of the main character in the center of the composition and the same photo – but with the hero in the recommended points. You will visually see how these frames will differ in perception.

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

In the example above, you can see that the left vertical line runs in the center of the face – the photo looks harmonious.

A rule similar in meaning is the “golden ratio.”

The aspect ratio here is: side B is 0.618 from side A. To simplify, the frame is divided into eight parts horizontally and vertically. Here the dots are 3/8 and 5/8 from the edges. Photos that follow these rules look easy and exciting.

4. Symmetry Rule

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

Symmetry is the easiest way to create balance in a composition. In nature, it is observed, for example, in frames with a mirror image, as in the photo above. Such compositions evoke feelings of stability, peace, and reliability.

However, there is no complete symmetry in nature. For example, the face of a person in front, the person’s figure is not symmetrical. Strive for absolute symmetry in the frame is not worth it. Even in nature, nothing is perfect.

5. Depth of Field

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

It must be in the sharpness range to highlight the central part, and the background and other details must be blurred. A sense of depth in the composition is created. It does not matter at all whether the key figure is in the foreground or the background. You can read more about the depth of field in another article.

6. Free Space in The Frame

Photo Composition
Photo Composition Techniques

When creating a composition, you must leave enough space between the main component of the plot and the edge of the frame.

Such objects look good – it is more convenient to look at them without being distracted by secondary details, making the plot more dynamic.

7. Shoot Pose

Photo Composition
Photo Composition Techniques

The objects in the frame have so-called visual, or visual, weight. This means that each subject has its own “load”, which must be taken into account to balance them in the frame. There are different techniques for this:

  • with the help of gestures – if the model moves with the right hand, then we balance it with a similar movement with the left hand or foot;
  • with the help of objects – an object is placed in the other half – a counterweight. An example is in the image above;
  • even with a glance, you can balance, giving him a free place: for an evil, furious look, you need much more space than for a calm one;
  • colors weigh differently: bright colors are heavier than dark colors.

If you successfully balance the weight of the objects in the photo, it will be harmonious and complete.

8. Patterns and Texture

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

A pattern is a lot of repeating pieces. When building a composition, applying this rule can produce interesting effects. They work with texture with light – play with shadows – sometimes unexpectedly surprising results are obtained.

9. Leading Lines

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

Lines are various – straight, curved, diagonal, electric wires, roads, the horizon. The direction of the lines has a different emotional color: the horizontal lines are calmer than the vertical ones, the lines running diagonally from the left to the bottom bear tension, and the opposite ones are peaceful. It can also be items lined up in a row. Images with diagonal lines look more dynamic than horizontal ones.

10. Simplicity

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

Try to remove unnecessary clutter to build better the background for the main subject in the frame. When the image is open, it is easy to see it.

11. Odd Object Rule

Photo Composition
Photo Composition Techniques

It is believed that it is an odd number of more easily perceived objects with the eyes, and with an even number, the viewer cannot decide which one to stop at. But this rule can be violated, for example, if there are only two models.

12. Rhythms

Photo Composition
Photo Composition Techniques

These are geometrically similar shapes, colors, lines, benches in the park, sleepers on rails, lanterns along the road. A sufficient number of them – 3, if more, then the rhythm more actively affects the audience’s perception. The rhythm is interrupted when color, size, location, etc., change.

13. Shooting Point

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

They choose to calculate the main idea of ​​the composition: from a portrait to a large group of people; or considering the background: sea or birch grove; from a bird’s eye view or the ground, at eye level.

14. Framing

Photo Composition Techniques
Photo Composition Techniques

There are many times when you can create a frame from surrounding objects. Objects that serve as frames in life will help you with this: window frames, street spans, the space between the columns, winter landscapes, where trees, their branches bend under the weight of snow in an arc, and many objects found in the environment.

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


You can always work according to the rules and violate the rules to implement your ideas. Still, to break it, it is recommended to study them first because artistic photography is luck and talent and knowledge of the rules. Every photographer strives to take not just create pictures but with a twist. Maybe you will get a world masterpiece.

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