basics of photography: composition

As you may or may not know, I am a photographer by occupation. Taking pictures is something that I have been doing for quite some time and I'm constantly growing and developing my art! One thing that I'm constantly refining is my "composition." In fact, (in my own opinion) tied for first place with over-processing, bad composition is a recurring problem with new photographers and the bane of everybody's existence. "Now, what is composition?" you may be asking. In the words of Henri Matisse, "Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painter's command to express his feelings." Now just change the word "painter" to "photographer" and that's you! Simply put, composition is the way that the subject(s) are arranged on a plane. You can express a lot just through the way that you decide to lay out your image. Power, right? Here are a few of the outlines that I follow when I am "composing" my photographs:

 
1. Get out of that "shoot now, crop later" mindset. Unless I'm making a photograph into a square or something else in the artistic realm, I'll rarely (if ever) crop a photograph. It is just something that I do not do. I shoot mostly with fixed lenses (30mm and 50mm are two of my favorites.) and I find that for me, this makes framing more natural and sort of effortless. A lot of times if an image is cropped, it can seem unnatural. To take natural looking and well-composed photographs without cropping, the viewfinder guides will become your best friend. Through my viewfinder, the center point is clearly marked. Once you can find that point, center the rest of the photograph around it. Practice for a little, you'll be surprised at how naturally it comes. 

2. Try not to make your viewers seasick. This is my opinion but I'm sure that it's an opinion of a lot of photographers out there: not a fan of the constant weird sideways shots. I was looking at someone's wedding pictures once and my neck hurt from turning it in order to comprehend the image in front of me. Personally, the "artistically sideways" photo is a quick fix and certainly a cheap shot. It takes tremendous balance to shoot a straight photo. It really does. Sideways angles totally work sometimes, too! However, if you excessively abuse the sideways angle, you'll be labeled a "noob" for sure.

3. Try the Rule of Thirds. Picture your photo as a trifold brochure. There are three invisible lines cutting your photograph into three equal parts. Place your subject in one of the side sections and you've using the rule of thirds! I don't do this much because I'm a huge fan of a centered photograph (see below) but I do use it from time to time. It adds a little bit of variety and it's a nice, clean look.


4. When in doubt, center. I love the timelessness of a centered subject. There's a dramatic beauty about it. I probably overuse this shot a lot but come on, it's simple and beautiful.

I hope this was a little helpful for you, I'll be sharing some more photography tips soon, so keep checking back!
xo, e.m.

6 comments

  1. you nailed each aspect of composition! viewing in grid view helps a lot too

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    1. I've never tried the grid but I'll have to now that you've said that!

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  2. I love this! Can’t wait to see you other photography style posts :)

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    1. Oh thank you! If you have any suggestions or anything you'd like for me to highlight, don't be afraid to shoot me an email! erika@larkandlace.com : )

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