In this article, we’ll discuss the basic rules of composition in photography. Photography 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 tricky, even if he understands all camera features and functions. So here are 5 basic rules of composition in photography by using them even the most newbie photographer can get correctly composed shots.
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 very important. Indeed, when taking photographs for another person, it is essential to do everything like photos.
Often photoshoots are ordered by people for whom it is necessary to get not an exciting 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. In one way or another, all these principles 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 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 looks good. Therefore, beginners should learn the rules of composition 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 shot and practice well.
5 Basic Rules of Composition in Photography
Artistic photographs based on just one idea can turn out to be very beautiful and exciting. But sometimes simple mistakes can drastically ruin the result of the shooting, despite the excellent camera and enormous enthusiasm. To prevent this, it is crucial to learn the basic rules of composition. This will help translate your ideas into the picture better and raise the level of expertise.
1. 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 challenging to mentally build a golden spiral of the Fibonacci’s golden ratio when photographing to use a more straightforward 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 corner 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 rule of thirds. In this case, the photo is divided into nine already equal parts bylines, the visual centers’ intersections. This approach to photography is much easier because mentally drawing a frame into equal segments is easier. Most cameras can shoot with such a grid on the screen.
2. Diagonal Rule
From the name, you can understand that this composition rule implies the arrangement of the photograph’s elements on the diagonal when photographing. It is enough to mentally draw a line from one edge of the camera screen to the other when shooting and then place the objects along with the guide.
Anything can repeat the diagonal, for example, a mountainside or a road; you can also put several objects from larger to smaller, creating 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 photos, you can impress that the subject moves up or down, fast or slow. Also, diagonal lines can be used as guidelines for the main object.
3. 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, 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 suppose the direction goes in the opposite direction. In that case, there will be a feeling of movement backward, completion: this way, the correct order of the subject when shooting will help express the idea correctly.
This principle also applies to photographs where there are no dynamics. The role can be played by the direction of the gaze, hands, and other objects in the frame. It is essential 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
The background plays a crucial role in photography. Whether it’s a portrait of a model or any other subject, it is essential to make sure that objects in the background do not disturb the composition.
If the subject is the only important thing in the photo, other items in the background can distract attention and 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 strong bokeh effect with your camera, so the background will not be clear.
In addition to foreign objects, uneven backgrounds can ruin the image. If any lines are 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
Whether you’re shooting one main subject or a landscape, it’s essential 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 challenging to consider the model.
It is crucial to follow this rule of composition when taking photos and leave enough space around the subject to allow the viewer to look at it familiarly. When photographing, for example, a landscape, on the contrary, you do not need to strive to capture as much space as possible around the primary 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 an arch, and other surrounding objects.
Do You Always Need to Use the Rules of Composition in Photography?
When the basic rules of composition in photography are known, the question may arise: is it always necessary to use them? It is not required to use all the principles with each photo; it all depends on the photographer’s skill level and the idea.
Beginners should take photographs using this knowledge as often as possible. So over time, observing them when photographing will become a habit and will help develop photography skills.
The experts 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.
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 interfere with the embodiment of the concept in photography.
Applying the basic rules of composition in photography is good, but you shouldn’t limit your imagination either. The basic principles of photography will help improve the picture almost always and help raise the level of the photographer’s skill. The main thing is to understand how it works and train more. Also, you can buy ‘The Art of Photograph‘ to learn all the basics of composition in photography.