Basic Rules of Composition in Photography

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Rules of Composition in Photography

In this article we’ll discuss about basic rules of composition in photography. Shooting is, for the most part, a creative process in which the photographer reflects his idea. Professionals, without hesitation, can expose the correct composition of the frame when shooting, after which it remains only to achieve the desired artistic effect. But for a beginner with a good camera and a brilliant idea for shooting, getting a good photo can be difficult, even if he understands how to get the right idea. So that even the most experienced photographer can get correctly composed shots, there are basic rules for composition in photography.

Why It is Important to Know the Rules of Composition?

Photography is often aimed at obtaining a specific result. You can take a photo either to order or for the sake of creativity.

In the first case, knowing the basic rules of composition is really very important. Indeed, when taking photographs for another person, it is important to do everything so that he likes the photos. Often photo shoots are ordered by people for whom it is important to get not an interesting idea of ​​the photographer, but an image on which they will look good. This is where knowing the rules of composition comes in handy to create a good photo. All these principles in one way or another make the image more pleasing to the human eye. Indeed, the attractiveness of simple photographs depends on the correct location of the object in the frame and in space.

If we consider photography, when the main task is to implement the photographer’s creative intention, then knowing the rules of composition will also not be superfluous. A person who has a clear idea of ​​the image that should be taken as a result of shooting can easily deviate from the instructions and get a great shot. Only a very experienced person can create a photo that violates all the regulations, which at the same time really looks good. Therefore, beginners should learn the rules of composition in order to apply them in cases where the intended photo does not turn out as they would like. This will help correct a not-so-good photo and practice well.

The Main Rules of Composition in Photography

Artistic photographs based on just one idea can turn out to be very beautiful and interesting. But sometimes simple mistakes can drastically ruin the result of the shooting, despite the excellent camera and huge enthusiasm. To prevent this from happening, it is important to learn the basic rules of composition. This will help not only to better translate your ideas into the picture, but also raise the level of the master.

1. Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds

Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds
Rules of Composition in Photography: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds

Golden ratio means dividing the frame when shooting into parts that are asymmetrical to each other. This should happen as follows: a part of a larger photo should be related to the whole frame as a part of a smaller size is related to a larger one. It is extremely difficult to mentally build a spiral of the golden ratio when photographing, so you can use a simpler option. To do this, you need to divide the frame when photographing into three parts vertically and horizontally, with a ratio to the total frame size of 3: 8, 2: 8 and 3: 8. Simply put, the central part of the frame should be slightly smaller than the rest, after which you need to draw diagonals. The resulting line intersections are called visual centers. At the intersection of these lines, the subject should be placed when shooting, because this is where the viewer’s more attention falls.

There is also a simplified version of this principle called the principle of thirds. In this case, the photo is divided into 9 already equal parts by lines, the intersections of which are the visual centers. This approach to photography is much easier, because mentally drawing a frame into equal segments is easier, and most cameras have the ability to shoot with such a grid on the screen.

2. Diagonal Rule

Diagonal Rule
Rules of Composition in Photography: Diagonal Rule

From the name you can understand that this composition rule implies the arrangement of the elements of the photograph on the diagonal when photographing. It is enough just to mentally draw a line from one edge of the camera screen to the other when shooting, and then place the objects along the guide. Anything can repeat the diagonal, for example, a mountainside or a road, you can also put several objects from larger to smaller, which will also create the desired effect when photographing. Thanks to this composition rule, you can add dynamics to any photo.

Depending on the direction of the diagonal, different effects may be created in the picture. When taking pictures, you can give the impression that the subject is moving up or down, fast or slow. Also, diagonal lines can be used as guidelines to the main object.

3. Direction Rule

Direction Rule
Rules of Composition in Photography: Direction Rule

In dynamic shots where there is a moving object, its direction plays an important role. From this, the idea of ​​photography can radically change. In most countries of the world, a left-to-right system is adopted, which is reflected in reading, writing and other things in this direction. Thus, an object that points to the right will create a sense of beginning, moving forward. And if the direction goes in the opposite direction, then there will be a feeling of movement backward, completion. This way, the correct direction of the subject when shooting will help to correctly express the idea.

This principle also applies to photographs where there is no dynamics. The role can be played by the direction of the gaze, hands and other objects in the frame. It is important to keep this in mind when photographing if the photograph is to have a certain mood. The main thing to remember is that the direction to the right causes’ positive emotions, and to the left – negative ones.

4. Background Rule

Background Rule
Rules of Composition in Photography: Background Rule

The background plays a very important role in photography. Whether it’s a portrait of a model or any other subject, it is important to make sure that the position of objects in the background does not disturb the composition. If the subject is the only important thing in the photo, other things in the background can not only distract attention, but also completely ruin the frame. So, for example, when shooting a portrait in nature, the branches of a tree in the background can protrude absurdly from behind the model’s back. For portraits, it’s best to choose a solid background. You can also create a deep bokeh effect with your camera, so the background will not be clear.

In addition to foreign objects, uneven backgrounds can ruin the image. If there are any lines on it, passing through the entire frame, they can divide the picture into parts. This will adversely affect the composition of the frame. It is always important to notice such little things, because if you do not play around with foreign objects when photographing, this can introduce the wrong meaning into the photo.

5. Spatial Boundary Rule

Spatial Boundary Rule
Rules of Composition in Photography: Spatial Boundary Rule

Whether you’re shooting one main subject or a landscape, it’s important to leave enough space for the viewer. When shooting portrait photography, don’t fill the entire shot with the model, leaving only a little space around the edges. This disturbs the composition and will look cumbersome, and it will be extremely difficult to consider the model. It is very important to follow this rule of composition when taking photos and leave enough space around the subject to allow the viewer to look at it in a familiar way.

When photographing, for example, a landscape, on the contrary, you do not need to strive to capture as much space as possible around the main picture. Thus, the part of the frame that the photographer wanted to shoot will be lost. On the contrary, try not to expand the intended frame. In this case, do not mindlessly cut it, try to find the framework created by nature itself. These can be trees, which are successfully bent in the form of an arch, and other surrounding objects.

Do You Always Need to Use the Rules of Composition in Photography?

Rules of Composition in Photography
Rules of Composition in Photography

When the basic rules of composition are known, the question may arise: is it always necessary to use them? It is not at all necessary to use all the principles with each shooting, it all depends on the skill level of the photographer and the idea. It is best for beginners to take photographs using this knowledge as often as possible. So over time, observing them when photographing will become a habit and will help develop. The masters of their craft may neglect them, but at the same time their vision is already clearly formed and they often apply the rules of composition, without even analyzing the image on the camera screen.

You may also like to read: Compositional Techniques in Photography: Creation of Volume in The Frame

Also, their use depends on the artistic intent of the photographer. If you know exactly what you want to get in the picture and have an idea of ​​how to do it, you can neglect the basics. But it is better to do this only if they really interfere with the embodiment of the idea in photography. Applying the basic rules of composition is good, but you shouldn’t limit your imagination either. The basic principles of photography will help to improve the picture almost always, will help to raise the level of the photographer’s skill. The main thing is to understand how it works and train more.