Composition: the way that you arrange a subject within the frame. Photographers look at life through a lens. We work in a rectangle or square and thus must place things in a pleasing manner within this space. There are some timeless composition styles that every photographer should know.
As I go through the various styles, see if your images match up. Do you tend to only shoot with two styles? Maybe you could try a to shoot a new one and expand your craft.
1. Center of Interest
The main subject is placed at the very center of the image. This style is for striking subjects and creates emphasis. This is where most photographers start and this can make a pleasing composition, however don’t stop here!
2. Camera Angle
The camera is positioned in an abnormal way to create a more interesting look around the main subject. This can also be referred to as Point of View (POV). Angle is important to create a dynamic composition with a new perspective. For ideas on camera angles to try head to the Point of View Scavenger Hunt and try it out!
3. Leading Lines
A leading line can be almost anything: a road, path, river, sidewalk, fence, hedge, trail, treeline or even a shadow. You will not find a strong leading line around every subject, but you should look for them if they are there and take advantage of them. Lines in an image should lead into a photograph not out of the photograph. Additionally, if you can find a leading line that goes toward your main subject- even better!
4. Rule of Thirds
This rule is mentioned often by all artists. It is a good rule to follow but as you know from composition style one it can always be broken.
The rule of thirds states that the main subject isn’t ever in the center of the photo. Instead it is to the right, left, top or bottom of the photography. There is a handy rule of thirds grid you can turn on in your phone to see where your subject is. Ideally, the photo is even more pleasing if the subject hits one of the intersecting lines in the grid.
5. Framing the Scene
The main subject has a frame like object around it. It is not always completely around the main subject, but it helps the subject to stand out in an interesting way.
Often this can be found in nature pretty easily, but keep an eye for this when shooting at night as man made lights can create interesting frames as well.
6. Non- Distracting Background
This style is exactly as it sounds. The background of the subject is distorted in some kind of way so that it is not in any way distracting. Commonly this is done using bokeh, or that desirable blurred background. Often in portraits you want to background to not interfere with your subject as much as possible.
7. Scale and Proportion
Composing an image that plays with scale can be really fun. This can be used to show how large something is like a small figure in a landscape or how small something is….all depends on how you view the world. William Eggleston has an amazing image that plays with scale that becomes comical and nostalgic. To see this image head over to MoMs here.
8. Motion and Balance
Motion is a tricky thing to master. Motion can be real or implied. Real motion means freezing the subject in motion or blurring them to show motion like a waterfall. Implied motion can be created by converging lines in the way objects follow each other, allowing your eyes to move through the frame like the fungi image below.
It is essential when shooting motion to leave space. The subject needs space to move. Play with leaving tons of space at the top or bottom of the frame, or split the frame in half.