Photography’s not just about capturing a moment on film forever: it also allows us to observe the world from a unique perspective and depict reality through the filter of a photographer’s personal sensibility. To become undisputed masters of this noble art, photo composition plays a crucial role. Today, we’ll be discovering all the tips and tricks you need to create the ultimate composition.
PHOTO COMPOSITION: LET’S GET A FEW THINGS CLEAR
The first thing to remember is that we perceive reality in 3D, while photos reproduce what we see in 2D. Keep this in mind during photo composition, which is the sum of all the decisions made by photographers, from the moment they decide to take a picture to the choice of the subject and the background.
Such choices allow you to create a photo composition that transmits the emotions you feel when you take the shot by concentrating attention on specific details.
PHOTO COMPOSITION: THE MAIN ELEMENTS
The two main elements of photo composition are the subject and the background.
The subject is the focal point of the picture, where you want to attract the attention of the viewer.
The background is the farthest plane from the shooting angle and it’s divided in three categories: neutral, contextualising or integrated.
The main feature of a neutral background is uniformity, being made up of elements with the sole purpose of highlighting the subject of the picture.
The purpose of a contextualising background is to be intelligible, even if it’s out of focus most of the time.
Finally, an integrated background uses many elements acting together to improve the intelligibility of the photo to highlight its message.
PHOTO COMPOSITION: THE KEY INGREDIENTS
While composing a picture, the photographers act like a chef using different ingredients to make a photo. Elements like shapes, lines, textures, light, movement and perspective are used to create a perfectly balanced picture.
Remember that using more elements at the same times makes photo composition more complicated, so choose what you want to use and how you use it carefully.
PHOTO COMPOSITION: HOW TO COMPOSE A PICTURE
Knowing the end result you want to achieve is crucial when you start composing a picture. That’s why you have to first define a spatial hierarchy based on the message you want to deliver.
To become a good photographer, you need precise ideas and feelings convey, and must then find the best way to represent your vision.
There are some basic aesthetic rules to follow for your photo composition to express its true potential. Let’s take a look at the some of these.
PHOTO COMPOSITION: THE RULE OF THIRDS RULE AND THE GOLDEN RATIO
Obsessive research into aesthetic principles and perfect harmonies brought mankind to discover the golden ratio, the irrational number of 1.618033.
What makes this number so special is that it’s found in all manner of disciplines and aspects of life, from nature to science to arts.
By using the golden ratio, you can obtain geometric shapes such as the golden triangle, the golden rectangle and the Fibonacci spiral, which looks like the silhouette of a snail’s shell.
You can find the golden ratio in many photo compositions, even when the photographer is unaware, because the trained artist’s eye is unconsciously drawn to it.
With time, the golden ratio rule has been simplified, and it’s now called the rule of thirds.
Following the rule of thirds involves dividing the photo to a grid made of two vertical lines and two horizontal lines that are equally distant from one another and from the edge of the picture.
This way, the photo will be divided into nine sections of equal size, with the one in the centre called the golden section and enclosed at the four points where the lines intersect.
This area is the focal point where the viewer will focus their gaze and, as a result, is where you must pay particular attention when taking your pictures.
PHOTO COMPOSITION: LINES
Another crucial element of photo composition is lines.
The human eye is naturally attracted by geometric shapes and lines that form the simplest shapes.
Horizontal and vertical lines serve different purposes: horizontal lines give an impression of stillness, while vertical lines convey a sense of dynamism.
Slanted lines, when they converge on a single point, increase the sensation of depth of the picture.
Lastly, curved lines create movement in the composition and help the viewer to read the photo correctly.
PHOTO COMPOSITION: NATURAL FRAMES
Another way to increase the feeling of depth in your photo compositions is to use natural frames. These add a sense of a third dimension and guide the viewer’s gaze towards the focal point of your shot.
Our lesson on photo composition ends here. Now it’s over to you to use our suggestions to create some stunning pictures of your own.