photography composition

30 Image Composition Styles for Taking Good Pictures

Since I decided to start learning photography a few months ago, I’ve been looking for a good catalog of composition ideas. Once you figure out the mechanics of how a DSLR works, getting good at the composition of your photos seems to be the 80/20 of rapidly improving at photography.

I looked around and heard that the best book on the subject was “The Photographer’s Eye” by Michael Freeman. It’s explicitly about composition and walks through all of the elements of good composition for beginner photographers. It’s a fantastic introduction, and I highly recommend reading it.

After finishing the book, I went back and pulled out all of the compositional styles he mentioned explicitly or implicitly that I liked and thought were useful, and found a good example on Unsplash for each one. I wanted to practice recognizing them so that I could better pick them out in the wild, and incorporate them into my own photos.

It was originally for my own notes, but I realized that they might be useful for other beginner photographers too.

So enjoy! 

 

1. Edge-Cut Sun

Having an edge cut through the sun looks nice, or having the sun rising over a line or diagonal within the photo.

 

2. Dark Figure and Background

A figure silhouetted against an interesting background looks quite nice. This also incorporates the “big sky” effect.

 

3. Big Sky

For incorporating sky, either having the majority be sky or a smaller piece looks nice. 2/3 and 1/3, in either direction, can work. In this case, the sky dominates the frame.

 

4. Separate Shapes

Separate, different sized shapes placed somewhat unevenly but with a balanced weight.

 

5. Frame Fit

Filling the whole frame, right to the edges, with the subject(s).

 

6. Off-Center

The 1/3 and 2/3 lines are safe bets for putting objects off center, as are the points halfway between the center of the frame and the corners.

 

7. Chiaroscuro (light and shadow contrast)

Creating a strong contrast of light and dark, using lights and shadows.

 

8. Walking into the Frame

It tends to look better to have a subject moving, or appear to be moving, into the frame instead of out of it.

 

9. Figure in a Landscape

Having a figure with a landscape can give you a sense of how large and imposing the scene is.

 

10. Shadowscape

Shadows look cool basically.

 

11. Reflection

Here with the mountains in the water, this will usually require water or another reflective surface.

 

12. Stacked Planes

Stacking planes at different distances within the photo, as with these parts of the mountain, creates more depth and an interesting composition.

 

13. Many Subjects

Having many subjects that overlap the frame and extend beyond its edges.

 

14. Fibonacci Spirals

You can place objects within the frame based on the points of the Fibonacci spiral, or you can find elements displaying the spiral themselves.

 

15. Framing

When you can, it’s a nice effect to frame one element of the shot within another, such as a building through a gap in a bridge, or in this case, the tents through the trees.

 

16. Strong Triangles

A triangle cutting through the frame brings attention to the apex.

 

17. Inverted Triangles

An upside down triangle also brings strong focus to the apex, in this case, the henna art.

 

18. Diagonals Cutting through the Frame

A strong diagonal dividing the frame, especially effective when the focus is different on different sides of the diagonal.

 

19. Concentric Curves

Having a number of curves forming concentric circles like the gravestones in this photo.

 

20. Edge Alignment

Lining up the edges of the subject with the edges of the frame, as with this sign, can create a nice symmetry.

 

21. Vertical Subjects in Horizontal Frame

When you have a number of vertical subjects, such as these models, it looks nice filling out a horizontal frame as opposed to being in a vertical one.

 

22. Motion

To catch motion, you can time the shot with a repetitive action such as throwing dirt from a shovel or wait for some action you can anticipate.

 

23. Pattern Interruption

When you have a consistent pattern, as with these hands up and lights, it looks nice to interrupt it as with the pillar.

 

24. Converging Diagonals

Similar to the inverted triangles, converging diagonals are a good way to bring focus to the apex.

 

25. Eye Lines

Eyes draw attention to certain parts of the frame. In this case, the male runner’s eyes cause us to focus more on the female runner, who is also closer to a stronger focal point of the frame.

 

26. Vertical Continuation

If there are multiple vertical subjects in a frame, such as a tree in the distance and someone standing, lining them up can create a nice continuation effect. In this case, the skater in the air above the one on the ground.

 

27. Low in the Frame

For vertical photos with a single subject, it looks good when placed low in the frame.

 

28. Contrasting Elements

An easy way to make a photo more interesting is to introduce some form of stark contrast: liquid/solid, hard/soft, delicate/brash. In this case, the solid shell in the water.

 

29. Dynamic Balance

When you have multiple subjects in the frame, they should balance each other out, even if they’re not symmetrical. The windmill on the right balances out the one on the left even though the left one is closer to the center, since the right one is larger in the frame.

 

30. Diminishing Perspective

From focus or distance, you can create the effect of the perspective diminishing throughout the photo.


Did you enjoy this article? Please share it!

About the author: Nat Eliason is the host of the podcast Nat Chat and the co-host of The Nat & Coco Show. You can find more of his work on his websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Source: https://www.nateliason.com/take-good-pictu...

10 PHOTOGRAPHY COMPOSITION RULES

There are no fixed rules in photography, but there are guidelines which can often help you to enhance the impact of your photos.

It may sound clichéd, but the only rule in photography is that there are no rules. However, there are are number of established composition guidelines which can be applied in almost any situation, to enhance the impact of a scene.

These guidelines will help you take more compelling photographs, lending them a natural balance, drawing attention to the important parts of the scene, or leading the viewer's eye through the image.

Once you are familiar with these composition tips, you'll be surprised at just how universal most of them are. You'll spot them everywhere, and you'll find it easy to see why some photos "work" while others feel like simple snapshots.

 

RULE OF THIRDS

Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. The rule of thirds says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect.

Doing so will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras even offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the LCD screen, making it even easier to use.

Notice how the building and horizon are aligned along rule-of-thirds lines. Image by Trey Ratcliff.

Notice how the building and horizon are aligned along rule-of-thirds lines. Image by Trey Ratcliff.

 

BALANCING ELEMENTS

Placing your main subject off-centre, as with the rule of thirds, creates a more interesting photo, but it can leave a void in the scene which can make it feel empty. You should balance the "weight" of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.

Here, the visual "weight" of the road sign is balanced by the building on the other side of the shot. Image by  Shannon Kokoska .

Here, the visual "weight" of the road sign is balanced by the building on the other side of the shot. Image by Shannon Kokoska.

 
 

LEADING LINES

When we look at a photo our eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling us into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey "through" the scene. There are many different types of line - straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc - and each can be used to enhance our photo's composition.

The road in this photo draws your eye through the scene. Image by  Pierre Metivier .

The road in this photo draws your eye through the scene. Image by Pierre Metivier.

 

SYMMETRY AND PATTERNS

We are surrounded by symmetry and patterns, both natural and man-made., They can make for very eye-catching compositions, particularly in situations where they are not expected. Another great way to use them is to break the symmetry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene.

The symmetry of this chapel is broken by the bucket in the bottom right corner. Image by  Fabio Montalto .

The symmetry of this chapel is broken by the bucket in the bottom right corner. Image by Fabio Montalto.

 

VIEWPOINT

Before photographing your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot it from. Our viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of our photo, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than just shooting from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away, from very close up, and so on.

The unusual viewpoint chosen here creates an intriguing and slightly abstract photo. Image by  ronsho .

The unusual viewpoint chosen here creates an intriguing and slightly abstract photo. Image by ronsho.

 

BACKGROUND

How many times have you taken what you thought would be a great shot, only to find that the final image lacks impact because the subject blends into a busy background? The human eye is excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo. Thankfully this problem is usually easy to overcome at the time of shooting - look around for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn't distract or detract from the subject.

The plain background in this composition ensures nothing distracts from the subject. Image by  Philipp Naderer .

The plain background in this composition ensures nothing distracts from the subject. Image by Philipp Naderer.

 

DEPTH

Because photography is a two-dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to conveys the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Another useful composition technique is overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one object with another. The human eye naturally recognises these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth.

Emphasise your scene's depth by including interesting subjects at varying distances from the camera. Image by  Jule Berlin .

Emphasise your scene's depth by including interesting subjects at varying distances from the camera. Image by Jule Berlin.

 

FRAMING

The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest.

Here, the surrounding hills form a natural frame, and the piece of wood provides a focal point. Image by  Sally Crossthwaite .

Here, the surrounding hills form a natural frame, and the piece of wood provides a focal point. Image by Sally Crossthwaite.

 

CROPPING

Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background "noise", ensuring the subject gets the viewer's undivided attention.

Cut out all unnecessary details to keep keep the viewer's attention focused on the subject. Image by  Hien Nguyen .

Cut out all unnecessary details to keep keep the viewer's attention focused on the subject. Image by Hien Nguyen.

 

EXPERIMENTATION

With the dawn of the digital age in photography we no longer have to worry about film processing costs or running out of shots. As a result, experimenting with our photos' composition has become a real possibility; we can fire off tons of shots and delete the unwanted ones later at absolutely no extra cost. Take advantage of this fact and experiment with your composition - you never know whether an idea will work until you try it.

Digital photography allows us to experiment with different compositions until we find the perfect one. Image by  Jule Berlin .

Digital photography allows us to experiment with different compositions until we find the perfect one. Image by Jule Berlin.

Composition in photography is far from a science, and as a result all of the "rules" above should be taken with a pinch of salt. If they don't work in your scene, ignore them; if you find a great composition that contradicts them, then go ahead and shoot it anyway. But they can often prove to be spot on, and are worth at least considering whenever you are out and about with your camera.

Did you enjoy this article? Please share it!