So composition is a key part of art, design and photography. It’s one of those things where, when done properly you may love and appreciate the image without really knowing why. But when it’s done badly it leaves the pictures uninteresting or even confusing.
It creates a sense of perfection and balance. Whether it’s shapes, colours or position of your subject in the image, it all matters when it comes to getting composition right. That said composition can be a very personal taste, but generally there are rules to abide by.
Note, if you’re using your smart phone, most of them have a setting where you can activate the grid. Go to your camera settings to turn it on. This is what it looks like on my iPhone. Settings>Camera>Grid. As you can see from the last image there are now 4 lines – 2 vertical and 2 horizontal.
Photographers call it The rule of thirds
Perhaps you have a DSLR or use your phone, either way it still applies.
It is a technique which divides your image up into 9 parts – So imagine your scenes divided equally into thirds both horizontally and vertically as shown in this picture. Images look great when the focal point or subject is positioned on (or near) one of the intersecting points as that is where the eyes are naturally drawn to. Here, I have positioned the face and eyes near to, or on one of the intersections. This achieves a more natural and balanced feel.
And below the tree cuts straight down the right third and works better than if it were bang in the middle of the image.
Negative space is the part of the picture that is empty; the space around the subject. Often the subject is the most important feature in the image but negative space can really strengthen your composition and even add more interest as it creates more emphasis.
Here the little girl sits with a large amount of negative space on the left. Having her sit inwards creates an engaging picture that wouldn’t have worked if she pointed the other way, looking out of the frame. There is a pleasant feeling of space in this image. My logo also sits on the cross section which creates a neat, balanced feel. Images like this are great for adding written content to.
So next time you’re composing a shot take a few moments to consider these tips. As a beginner, learning this rule of thirds is really important. However it’s not to say that you can never break them. In some situations you might feel it’s fine to rebel against the rule of thirds and that’s OK, perhaps you want to make a statement! You can respectfully break the rules, but try to get the hang of them first.
For example, this image below has no other distractions in the background and his direct gaze and expression helps draw us into the photograph creating a composition that works just fine.
It’s about having a good understanding of the rules and when it is OK to break them. So have a go!