10 More Tips for Better Composition (Part 2)
A few weeks ago I wrote a post entitled 10 Tips for Better Composition in which I shared 10 common rules of photographic composition. It is now timely to add ’10 More Tips’ and complete the topic. As with my previous post, I enjoyed doing the research and illustrating the ‘rules’ using my own examples. Most of the tips mentioned below are common concepts in the world of visual arts and not only photography.
The post was written for my own benefit. I’m sharing it here in hope that readers find it helpful too. Knowing these guidelines makes you see things differently and this can lead to greater creativity and more interesting photographs.
We tend to frame shots either horizontally (‘landscape’ mode) or vertically (‘portrait’ mode). To make your images a little bit more fun, also try diagonal framing. You do that by tilting your camera and shooting at an angle. Also, do not just do it slightly, so that the viewer is in no doubt that it was your intention to frame the shot this way. And if you forget to tilt your camera while shooting, you can also re-frame by cropping the images later in post-processing.
12. Cropping of Limbs:
Now that we’re on the subject, cropping should be done carefully, particularly when it comes to cropping of limbs. If done wrong, it can make your subject look like photo amputee and give the viewer an uncomfortable feeling. Generally speaking, the further down the length of an arm/leg, the stranger it feels about it being cropped. Thus it is likely to look odd if you crop off your subjects’ hands and feet, as well as cut at their joints, such as knees and elbows. There’re no strict rules on this, so trust your intuition and if the crop feels wrong, don’t do it.
13. Eyes in top part of portrait:
If you’re taking a portrait, then more often than not the eyes will be the focal point of your photo. If you apply the rule of thirds here, the eyes will be positioned towards the top of the frame. This will give your portrait a more balanced and pleasing feel.
We’ve already established that placing your subject off-centre can create a more interesting photo (please refer to Rule of Thirds). Sometimes, if there’s a lot of negative space in the scene, you can also include another less important object to fill that empty space. This will add balance and make your image more harmonious to look at.
When photographing landscapes, try to avoid having the horizon dead centre in your frame. If it’s a seascape for instance, have 2/3 of your frame filled with either sea or the sky, but not half and half.
To add depth to your images, consider including an object in the foreground which will add that extra dimension to your images. By having a foreground and a background your images will be interpreted by the viewer as having depth and thus more interesting.
Try to avoid intruders and other distracting elements in your photographs. Apart from your usual photo bombers (e.g. people!), an image can also be ruined by a lamp post sticking out from your subject’s head or a power line creeping into your shot. Do not let any distractions steal attention from your subject. Re-compose and take the shot again.
The Rule of Thirds is there to be broken and symmetry is one good way to do it. Symmetry can be found in architecture, in patterns, in nature and even in portraiture. There’s something appealing about an image that is the same on one side as it is on the other.
19. Repetition and Rhythm:
Repetition in photography is somewhat similar to rhythm in music. If you’d like your images to make an impact, you can repeat certain elements several times or lots of times. If an element is repeated many times it becomes a pattern. As per my earlier post, patterns are visually pleasing because they suggest harmony and rhythm, which create a sense of order.
Patterns and repetition are found everywhere: a field of poppies, the bars of a metal fence, rows of seats in a stadium, a group of soldiers, etc. Have a look at the below image in which the photographer (me!) is playing with the idea of repetition.
The use of texture is yet another powerful tool than can enhance your photo’s composition. Most things around us have texture, some elements are smooth (e.g. the surface of a shiny piano), others are rough (e.g. a rusty wall or peeling paint), some are wet (e.g. water drops), others are dry (e.g. the small particles that make up sand), etc. In a way, texture in itself tells a story which is why the human eye reads texture as a feeling. Incorporate texture into some of your photos and the viewer may visualise what’s being portrayed and give your image an extra second of attention.
A lot more can be said about composition techniques, but the basic concepts have been covered by the 20 tips above. Hope you have found the post useful. I’d love to hear your views, so please feel free to comment below.